I posted a blog several months ago that described how overwhelmed I was. Many people responded ( even people in my real life) and told me to stop beating myself up. To recap without rewriting the whole thing: I have always been very organized. I have to be. It keeps me sane and calm. I have two children, one who is 20 with bipolar disorder and one who is 14 with anxiety, ADHD, depression, insomnia and has also been recently diagnosed with Type I diabetes. Two years ago, my husband’s ex-wife asked us to take in their 9-year-old son, who has some serious behavior issues. She felt we were much better equipped to help him than she was and that our home was a good alternative.
So, here I am , plugging along, working, and taking care of my home and family. Obviously things do not always go smoothly. When you have kids with behavior or medical issues, you get calls from the school more frequently and have more doctor visits and school meetings, plus weekly therapy. We also try very hard to throw in cub scouts or soccer for the boys, which adds more running around, but is good for the children’s social skills. Still, I had a good system in place, a supportive husband, and an understanding workplace. My planner had always been my Bible. I felt I was also taking care of myself- chatting with friends and blogging; reading before bed; taking a relaxing bubble bath at night. Some suggested lots of alcohol, but that’s just not my thing.
A bunch of things happened in a row. You know how they say things happen in three’s? Well, we were headed into three times two! Within less than six weeks, our basement flooded with sewer water; my son was diagnosed with diabetes and hospitalized; my job told me I was having my hours cut and would lose all my health benefits as well as sick and vacation time; I was rear-ended and my car totaled; and we were in the midst of a legal battle with my husband’s ex (who decided that although she wanted her son to live with us, she did not want to stick to a regular visitation schedule and refused to pay for any costs associated with her child).
I knew I was on overload. I was forgetting things. I lost motivation. I was nervous while driving. I started to worry about things obsessively. My friends encouraged me to see a psychiatrist and ask for medication to help with the anxiety. Now, all of the children take medication for their various disorders. When they talk about how the fact that they cannot function without it makes them feel, I am always the first one to explain physiology to them. I had even used the example of a diabetic needing insulin as a comparison to mental health issues (even before my son’s diagnosis). If you need it, you need it. Then why was I so hesitant to do this for myself?
I did exactly what everyone was telling me not to do. I was beating myself up for not being able to handle what I had always handled. I felt inadequate. I did not understand why I could not continue to take care of things as I had always done. But one day I finally made the call. I saw a psychiatrist who was actually amazed I had held it together for as long as I had. He told me I was probably more depressed than anxious and that I was coming by this honestly and that I was dealing with stress above and beyond anything I had ever dealt with and all at the same time. He pointed out that I was still going to work, I was moving forward with getting a new car, looking for additional work hours. He said I had amazing coping skills. I had not completely shut down, even though I felt like I had. He felt that medication was a good thing for me to try and that he also felt this was situational and I would feel like myself again soon enough and that this was not permanent.
I must say, I feel a bit hypocritical, encouraging my children to take their medication and stressing how much they need it, yet almost not doing so for myself. As if it was different in my case. I am happy to report that whether it was the medicine or not, which he insisted I do not stop for at least 6 more months, I am feeling almost like myself again. My car has been replaced with a new car, and of course a new car payment. I was working two part-time jobs and have now left the one where they cut my hours to full-time at the other one with benefits. My life is still not stress-free by any stretch of the imagination. My son’s Diabetes suddenly became out of control and even though we are only into week 3 of school, he has missed 5 days of his first year of high school. BUT I am coping much better than I was several months ago.
I attribute it to a combination of the medication and the fact that I accepted that I’m human and needed help.