Monday, September 17, 2012

on feeling like an #epicfail.

so. normally, i try to post — both on my blog & on my facebook page —
mostly uplifting, positive stuff. because i believe the energy
you put out into the universe is the energy the universe sends back at you.

so i try to be a tigger rather than an eyeore.
i try to illustrate the half-fullness of the glass.
i try to put on a happy face.

because i want to be a happy, energetic person who sees the bright side of life
& brings a smile to others' faces wherever she goes, on- or offline.

& much of the time, i am that person.

but this summer, that person disappeared. i lost her, & it scared me.

she had been gradually fading for a while.

the past year or so has been really challenging for us as a family.
changes with my husband's career have meant tougher times re: money.
changes with our daughter — who is 13yo, need i say more? —
have meant tougher times re: parenting.
changes with my physiology — i am 45yo, need i say more? —
have meant tougher times all-around.

by this summer, i felt like i was failing.
failing as a mother. failing as a wife.
failing as a money-maker. failing as a money-manager.
failing as the glue that holds our family together.
failing at my to-do list. failing at my self-care.
failing at making anybody happy, especially myself.

& i felt like it was all on me & only me.
i felt loaded up with unfulfilled responsibilities
& weighed down by unmet expectations — many of them my own.

i was furiously treading water, but i. was. sinking.

but rather than shouting out for help, i isolated myself.
i didn't pick up phone calls or initiate get-togethers or
offer an explanation of why i was sobbing in the closet,
because i didn't want anyone to know i was going under.
i didn't reach out to my sweet husband, my first family or my dear friends,
because if i admitted needing help, then i was failing yet again. failing, squared.

my midsummer birthday, which i typically tout the whole month of july,
i downplayed, forbidding my husband from following through with his intent
to buy me a bicycle; too much money, i insisted.
my promise of a girls' night karaoke party to celebrate my 45th went unkept.

i grew crabbier & weepier with every daily task i couldn't complete,
with every work project i couldn't move forward,
with every cup left on the counter, every sock not in the hamper,
every traffic infraction committed anywhere close to me,
every ringing phone or buzzing text, every question, every meh answer,
every whine from anyone, including dogs.

by the beginning of august,
i was having occasional nighttime heart palpitations
& whole days where i literally could not stop crying.

& thank god for those days, for it was on one of them that i finally realized
i wasn't treading anymore. i was under.
i was fully submerged, with saltwater filling my lungs.
& it wasn't because i didn't try hard enough or stopped struggling;
it was because i had stones tied to my ankles — stones of
midlife stressors & midlife hormones & midlife, period.

stones i couldn't possibly untie on my own while i was still trying to keep swimming.

i sobbed uncontrollably as i wrote a lengthy email to my friend & obgyn,
confessing my suspicions that i was suffering from some fairly serious
depression/anxiety, outlining my symptoms & what i had tried on my own,
& rather urgently requesting her recommendation for what i should do ...

it's taken a whole lot for me to come to this conclusion —
that i need some sort of interventional help — being the
type A control freak superwoman with a plan of action
to fix just about anything sort of girl i am.
but i am miserable on the inside, & i am miserable to live with on the outside.
i'm just not myself, no matter how i try to get back to her.

i wrote that to my doctor friend. i cc'd my husband.

& i felt better. not all better, of course, but noticeably better, just typing the words.
just typing "i need help" & hitting the send button released a stone or two,
& buoyed me up, lifted me a little closer to the light & the air i'd been lacking.

which immediately & clearly revealed the ugly reality that
some of the stones were definitely my own, tied by me around my own ankles.
stones like superwoman & have it all & do it all & be it all,
& the biggest, heaviest stone of all, less than perfect = failure.

the ugly truth of the matter is that while i talk the talk of good is good enough,
& i'm happy to encourage & support other women in walking that walk,
down deep, underneath, i hold myself to a very different standard.
a standard so high that it has the ironic effect of dragging me way down. under.

so my doctor friend recommended an antidepressant & referred me to a cardiologist.
& six weeks later, the cardiologist has judged my heart to be perfectly healthy
[palpitations likely caused by a cocktail of stress & hormones],
& i'm pleased to report my heart feels happy again, with the rediscovery of me.

thanks to a winning combination of my vulnerability + bravery,
my friend's responsiveness + comfort, & a low daily dose of zoloft,
i'm once again swimming forward — with gratitude for grace & a deliberately slower pace,
so i can soak up the warmth of the sunshine & smell of the seabreeze with every stroke.

image source:


Diana said...

I'm so glad you are finding your way back and seeing the glass as half full and still filling.

Jen said...

Cheers to lovable, brave, wonderful, perfectly imperfect you! And to throwing out all of the shoulds and just enjoying the ride, which we all struggle with from time to time.