The Honest Mommy

Uncensored thoughts on parenting & more

Trying to alleviate yucky, anxious feelings July 11, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — lotsofopinions @ 4:17 pm
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For as long as I can remember, I’ve had trouble with anxiety. Not “worrying” that something bad will happen, like a car crash, but more of a generalized feeling of anxiety that feels like butterflies in my stomach or tightness in my chest.

I’ve had a lot of this anxiety today. I realized that it may stem, in part, from all of the loose ends and unfinished business I have right now. What does the rest of July look like? What still needs to be done to plan my son Adam’s birthday party? What steps can I take right now to move certain projects forward? Which projects can be put on the back burner for now? How and when will I get back on the low-carb wagon (low carb is how I manage my weight and my health)? When will I work on photos from our recent European trip?  What’s for dinner tonight?

At the moment, I’m insisting that the kids play outside so that I can work out some of these things. I do get pretty antsy when I want the kids to just play on their own for awhile so that I can work on things. Surely mothers of previous generations did not spend their days constantly entertaining their kids and taking them on fun outings — there were too many other things to do!


Day 3 after saying goodbye to Freckles March 29, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — lotsofopinions @ 1:11 am
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I am starting to feel like I might actually make it through this (losing our dog of 9 years). The waves of panic were much, much less today than previous days. I did definitely have a period of being really sad, from about 11 a.m. until 3 p.m.

It was a bit of a downer to call to make an appointment with my therapist and find that the next opening is 3 weeks from now. Ouch. But I know that if I really, really needed to talk with a professional, I could see another counselor at that clinic.

In other news, I am sensing some tension between Hubby and me today. Not sure what that’s about. Did I leave the kitchen a mess? Do something to offend him? Is he tired (already) of me being sad about Freckles being gone?


Loss of pet is bringing anxiety issues to the forefront March 27, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — lotsofopinions @ 9:53 pm
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I decided not to go to church this morning. I could just tell that the first time someone asked me how I was doing (after putting Freckles down), I would turn into a blubbering mess. Sometimes my emotions are like that — just the situation of someone asking me how I’m doing triggers a meltdown, not necessarily because I’m feeling particularly sad at that moment, but in part because I know I want to hold myself together — so of course, the opposite happens.

Fortunately, Hubby seemed to understand the situation and was not grumpy about my absence from church. He had to be there this morning to help with the service. Hubby told me after church that the veterinary clinic secretary, who is a church member, asked him how he was doing. He responded that he was doing “okay” but didn’t really want to talk about it. That tells me that He is really hurting; usually these kinds of conversations aren’t a problem for him.

Hubby was the one who brought Freckles to the vet and was with her in her final moments, so I think he has even more to deal with than I do.

My feelings of panic and grief didn’t really get bad until the middle of the afternoon today. Sometimes, I feel like I’m going on with my (relatively) normal life, and the fact that Freckles isn’t with us is a sad but minor background detail.

Other times, I feel overwhelmed with the sadness that Freckles is gone. I worry that the sadness will be too much to deal with and, I suppose, that I won’t feel happy or normal anymore. I suppose the anxiety (which feels like tightness in my chest, difficulty breathing, rapid heartbeat, and uncontrolled tears) is because I don’t know how to live without Freckles; I don’t know what life without her looks like. It is change, and it’s not “fun” change like getting accustomed to a giant new television.

It is funny that I seem to have two modes. One mode is logical, reasonable, and calm. That mode understands that when you choose to begin a new chapter of life that includes a pet, you are also choosing to accept that at some point, another chapter of life without that pet will begin. That mode understands that the house and family will feel different without Freckles, but that we can and will get used to it. This logical mode realizes that some aspects of life will be calmer and simpler without Freckles, especially since she had some quirks that made her hard to live with.

The other mode is grief-stricken, miserable, and panicky. When I’m in that mode, I feel…. lost. Unsure how to go on without Freckles, even though I didn’t spend all that much time doting on her after her first few years with us. (We had our first child three years after we adopted Freckles, and, as many pet-owners-turned-parents have discovered, things change once a child comes along.) In grief mode, my inner monologue says, “I can’t believe I’ll never see Freckles again. I didn’t realize how hard it would be to lose her. Did I appreciate her enough when she was with us? How do I live in this house without having Freckles here? Will I always feel this sad when I realize that there is no dog here to eat up the crumbs? When will I stop feeling so sad and panicky?”

As I told a friend of mine who understands pet-owner stuff and also anxiety stuff, I feel like my anxiety issues have a life of their own and are making grieving Freckles much more complicated. I can pinpoint various times in my life when these waves of anxiety, which feel very icky and almost feel like being sick, were a problem. As a grade-schooler, I went to summer camp several different times, and I remember homesickness being a problem. The physical feelings that I called “homesickness” were exactly the same feelings I have now that Freckles is gone. I may have been having a nice time with my fellow campers, then during a lull I would have a thought about home, and *bam*, the tears, tightness in the chest, and so on would overcome me.

I also remember a time in my childhood, I suppose I was about 8 years old, where I would be playing at a friend’s house in my neighborhood, and then I would feel overwhelmed with the desire to go home. I didn’t want anyone to know I was feeling this way, so I would keep it to myself and find some reason to go home if I couldn’t get the feeling to go away. I remember thinking it was silly to feel this way; I was close to home and was having a nice time with a friend, so what was there to feel panicky about?

When I was 16 years old, I flew overseas to be an exchange student for the summer. I remember that after I got settled into my bedroom at my host family’s home, the feelings of homesickness, panic, and anxiety were very, very intense. Looking back, I can see that it’s normal to feel homesick in a situation like that, but the way that I experienced that homesickness was probably not “normal.”

After the birth of each of my sons, and especially after the birth of my second son, I went through a period of feeling so panicky and tearful that I thought I might need help.  Oh, how embarrassing it was when my midwife returned my call (my husband’s call, actually) and I cried and gasped my way through the entire call. I did my best to hide these struggles from my parents and from most of my friends, because I found it embarrassing and I wasn’t sure how to even explain what was going on. Postpartum panic?

It’s time to wrap up this blog post. If you have any insights to share or can relate to anything I’ve written, do let me know in the Comments.


A new chapter of our lives, without our Freckles

Filed under: Uncategorized — lotsofopinions @ 3:26 pm
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On Friday (two days ago), we brought Freckles to the vet to have her put down. She was a lab-pointer mix that we got from our local Humane Society 9 years ago.

We found out 4 months ago that she had cancer, so we knew it was only a matter of time. Her last 24 hours with us, her hind legs were really not functional, and she was distraught that she couldn’t get up. Her breathing was labored, she panted, and it was clear that her belly was distended. It truly was time to relieve her of her misery.

Saturday, our first day with Freckles, was quite difficult for me. I have this anxiety problem — I guess that’s what it is — that rears its head when I’m dealing with things like change or grief. I will call my therapist, who has been helping Hubby and me with family issues, on Monday so I can meet with her about the anxiety.

The anxiety feels like a wave that washes over me, makes my chest tight, makes it hard to breathe, makes the sadness and tears come on. It happens more often when I’m not busy with something, when I’m at loose ends, or when I’m getting worn out, like at the end of the day.

That brings me to the present moment. I am deciding whether to go to church today. Not sure if it is a good idea at this point. Our veterinarian is a member of our small church, and I do not want to end up a blubbering mess the first time someone asks me how I’m doing. I wish like anything I could hold myself together better during difficult times.


SAHM Depression vs. SAHM Burnout August 4, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — lotsofopinions @ 6:56 pm
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Over my 5 years as a SAHM, Hubby and I have both wondered if I suffer from depression, and if being a SAHM is the right thing for me and for our family.  A few different times, Hubby has had the courage to suggest that perhaps I should go back to work, just for the sake of my mental health.

Something about these discussions has never really sat right with me. For one thing, I never wondered about whether I had depression before I became a mother. Then and now, some anxiety, yes, but not depression – not the kind that interferes with everyday life and doesn’t respond to “cheering up” sorts of efforts. For another, I do truly want to be a SAHM and I do truly think it is the best thing for our children.

Enter the term: SAHM Burnout. This makes a lot of sense to me, and I think that understanding what burnout is and how it comes about will be very helpful to me and to my family.

I think that burnout involves symptoms of depression, but it is not necessarily the same thing as true clinical depression. I think that burnout, left unaddressed, can be detrimental and even dangerous. It can certainly leave a SAHM feeling isolated and inadequate. I do think that when burnout is properly addressed, its symptoms can be turned around in a relatively short period of time. However, burnout symptoms can rear their ugly head again if things slide back to the way they used to be.

What factors make burnout more likely to be a big issue for me?

  1. When the weather does not allow us to easily spend time outdoors, this can put me in a “danger zone” pretty quickly. Where I live, the winters are long and cold, and it can take 15 minutes of concerted effort to get both of my kiddos (and myself) ready for the great outdoors. And once we’re out there, we may or may not be able to stay there very long. Summer comes with its own set of joys and challenges. Yesterday, for example, was so hot and humid that we spent a little time outdoors in the morning, and that was it for the day.
  2. When the kids or myself are sick.
  3. When I’m not getting enough sleep (this can have a variety of causes).
  4. When we don’t have “enough” things going on, such as preschool, Mommy & Me class, and so on.
  5. When we have TOO MUCH going on, and/or one particular thing starts to become a drain. A sign of this phenomenon is when you start to feel love/hate for a particular thing; for me, going to the pool has fallen into this category. On the one hand, yay! fun! water and smiles! when we go to the pool. On the other hand, all the time spent getting ready (applying sunscreen, packing food); all of the energy expended once we are there (Mark, who is 21 months old, has his own agenda at the pool, and it mainly involves wandering around every square inch of the pool complex — every DRY square inch, that is); and all of the work once we get home (baths, dinner, then bedtime, all at breakneck speed). All of these things can take their toll on me after awhile.
  6. Any time when I feel powerless to Get Things Done — whether those things are of a cooking and cleaning nature, or a rest & relaxation nature — because of so many interruptions and so many people (big and small) needing my time and attention. (For an interesting take on this issue, check out this Dad’s description of his week from hell.)
  7. When I feel like a failure at being a “good mom” (whatever that means) in spite of my efforts to not let anything slide. Today, for example, I spent the morning dashing around the house, doing some laundry and some basic cleaning; also spent a good amount of time preparing/serving/cleaning up after snacks for the kiddos and for myself. I kept glancing outside and thinking how I really “should” get the kids outside. Before I knew it, it was 11 a.m., and both kids were starving (AGAIN), so I hit the ground running in the kitchen (AGAIN) and got some lunch ready. Immediately after lunch, Mark was ready for his nap, so no more chance of a family outing in the morning; the afternoon brings its own set of opportunities (pool? park?) and challenges (me being worn out, figuring out dinner, being prepared for Mark’s post-nap demonic state). The bottom line? It is tough when, day after day, competing goals make you feel torn and unsuccessful; in this case, one goal is to Get The Kids Outside and Have Fun as a Family, while another goal is Keeping My House From Looking and Smelling Like a Pigsty, a Pigsty in Which Healthy Meals and Snacks Are Nowhere to Be Found.
  8. Feeling like “no one” would understand my feelings and frustrations. Over the years, I have realized that my mother, while she is a very dear and wonderful person, is not a good sounding board for me. As a result, I try not to appear too worn out or burnt when she is “watching.” With my husband, we have gone through a long process of figuring out how to make things work between us. On the one hand, it’s not fair for him to constantly listen to complaining and negativity; on the other hand, I can’t realistically put on a happy face for him day after day while I am falling apart on the inside. (I have talked with a number of other SAHMs who struggle with this very same issue.) When it comes to fellow SAHMs, it would seem that they would be perfect soulmates, but over the years I have discovered that this is not always, or even often, the case. Some SAHMs, God bless them, seem to sail through the challenges of SAHM-hood, and adding another kid or two to the brood is no big deal, not to mention the minor issues of getting dinner on the table or heading up yet another fundraiser at church or school. I have developed quite a nose to sniff out other SAHMs who love their families dearly but some days are just holding on by their teeth, and (this is key) aren’t afraid to admit it.

For me, it is therapeutic to simply list the things that contribute to burnout. What about you? What factors contribute to a state of burnout for you?


Struggles as of late May 24, 2009

Just wanted to put up a quick post about my struggles lately. For some reason, I have been struggling more than usual with

  • feeling very “hemmed in” by motherhood; feeling sad & frustrated that I have little time to devote to exercise, hobbies, or friends
  • feeling overwhelmed and anxious about having kids, and the challenges that will come as they grow older; feeling overwhelmed with the responsibility of raising two children to be responsible adults

I would sum up my struggles lately as “depression and anxiety.” Some of this is probably brought on by the fact that I have HUTH (hung up the horns), meaning that I am no longer pumping breastmilk for my baby, so the hormonal changes are likely exacerbating my tendencies to feel depressed and anxious.

It’s good to have this blog, where I can write about these things without being concerned about what my friends and family will think (only my husband knows about this blog).

One strange thing that’s happened lately: A friend of mine just had his first child (well, his WIFE had the child, but you know what I mean) a few days ago, and this has gotten me thinking about what it was like when we first brought my youngest home from the hospital. I had horrible, horrible anxiety the first few days we were home; at times I could hardly stop crying. Well for some reason, just thinking about my friend and his new baby brings back some of those feelings that I had seven months ago. Weird!!!

Thanks for reading. I’d love to hear insights from others who struggle with anxiety.


Feeling mommy-fatigue and mommy-anxiety January 27, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — lotsofopinions @ 2:23 am
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I certainly got hit with a case of the blahs tonight. My 3-month-old had a horrible day with regard to naps, and my 3-year-old didn’t nap at all. To top it off, I am still worn out from staying out “late” on Saturday night (11 p.m.). By the time my husband got home around 5:30 p.m. today, I was catatonic. Fortunately I got to crawl into bed for 20 minutes or so before hubby had to leave again. I just hope that my 20-minute recharge won’t mess with me falling asleep tonight.

Interestingly, I got hit with a bit of anxiety around 7:00 p.m. I had horrible anxiety the first few days home from the hospital, back in October, but really haven’t had much since. I’m sure it’s no coincidence that I am physically so worn out right now. The apparent source of my anxiety was that I was feeling overwhelmed with the long-term responsibilities of having two kids (anyone with 3+ kids is probably laughing while reading this).

I guess that as a mom, I feel responsible (along with my husband) for everything regarding my kids, including their future success in life (what if we don’t provide them with enough opportunities, etc. etc.). Part of me thinks this is hogwash, but part of me still worries, somehow.

With any luck, I’ll get a good night’s rest tonight and things will seem a little brighter in the morning.

As for this anxiety, it is an unwelcome visitor that, fortunately, is usually kept at bay. I have to keep an eye on it, though. I can really understand why some people have persistent problems with it. The first few days postpartum, it was so intense that I was desperate for it to go away.