Monday, May 23, 2011

If life gives you lemons, make life take them back...demand to see life's manager.

So I'm just going to be honest here. I've been dealing with some post-partum depression since Corryn was born, and I've been hiding it. Ashamed? Maybe, yeah, probably. But writing about it here doesn't mean I've had a breakthrough. Don't bring it up in conversation or anything, kay? I'm not ready for that.

Just wanted to get it out, work it out with some journaling (though this particular journal has a small audience, which is weird?), and I'm sorry I haven't been myself for some months. Who knows, maybe somebody from my distant past will stumble on my blog via links from friend's of friends blogs and find a little gem that can help them through their day. Happens to me more often than you'd think.

It's a really good thing that Corryn is an angel baby. But even when you have angel babies, and an angel husband, and everything in your life is going just like you planned...parenting is still a tough business.

Andy is amazing, I want you to know, and it's thanks to him that I've been seeing a counselor at LDS Family Services for a little while. Things are getting better overall, and my darkest days are popping up less frequently. Things that have made me happy:

- A fairly strict ten o'clock bedtime.
- Working in the morning and during naptime, but no longer at night after the kids go to bed. Using that time to do what I want to do, or just chill with Andy.
- Exercising several times a week.
- Eating tons of fresh fruits and vegetables. I eat 3-5 pounds of carrots in a week, and the other day I had a cantaloupe for lunch. A whole one.
- Eating less white rice and white flour. I don't know if they make me sad, but it turns out they make my digestive system sad.
- Acknowledging that I'm not a bad mom for being apart from my kids for more than an hour.
- Leaving the kids with Andy and having mini-adventures by myself. To the art supply store, or out to the park to draw people, or to buy myself a new shirt.
- Going on family dates at least once a week - hiking, museums, playgrounds, wedding receptions, doughnuts.
- Andy. He's my upper.

And last night, I painted for myself for the first time in a long time. No work ... of course, as it was Sunday ... just painting for the pleasure of it. It was so lovely. In the process I leafed through a few old sketchbooks, some notes that I kept tucked in the pages, an encouraging letter from my favorite high school teacher. I used to be hilarious. I used to make a lot of good stuff. There was some junk, too, and I've weeded out most of the junk over the progression of several years and houses and states. So it's pretty much just the good stuff left. I feel so lazy now, like I accomplish so little. Even though all the evidence points to the opposite, I suppose. I give full-time care to my two healthy, thriving children, and I have two side jobs. I've illustrated a full book plus some in the past few months, and I've painted approximately 150 paintings in the past year and a half. That's pretty good, right? Is it enough? That's rhetorical, by the way.

If we're not to run faster than we have strength, how do we know how far our strength will go without running to the point of collapse? How did frontier families, or pilgrims, or medieval peasants manage to have a swarm of kids, a working farm, and the hardest domestic lives possible? If they didn't have access to counselors and fresh cantaloupe and new clothes, why do I need those things to make me happy? Why can't I deal with the stress with as much grace as I imagine they did?

I actually asked my counselor something along these lines, and she said, "Their life expectancy was 34 years old."

I never thought I was a judgmental person. I never thought I was prone to envy, either. But now I think my strengths have turned to weaknesses when I wasn't paying attention. Apparently I judge myself very harshly, and my counselor asked if I judge others the same way. I said no, but...maybe I do? I think perhaps the things I'm most self-conscious about, the things I over-apologize for, are the very things over which I judge others. Because I'm expecting them to think the same way I do, and I'm anticipating that negative assessment. And in a strange way, I think judgement and envy are two faces of the same ugly dodecahedron. And ingratitude is another way to get there.

As negative as all that sounds, those realizations were actually a big step forward for me. To realize that maybe, sometimes, my thoughts can get a little ridiculous. And I just need to relax.

Remember when I used to think I was chill?

In other news, we've started to get serious about potty-training.

I cleaned up a lot of pee-pee today.

9 reason(s) to click here:

Betsy said...

So, I feel like it is safe to say here (and not on my blog) that I was truly disappointed that we did not match at UCLA. (Don't want all the Seattle peeps raggin on me). I have understood for some time that parenting is hard, but now that we are moving to a place that rains 9 months of the year, I am wondering if that will help at all with our impending parent-ship-hood. I am glad to know that you sought help and that you are finding joy throughout it all. And that we have such supportive husbands.

Anonymous said...

A few years ago when I was dealing with some . . . stuff, I started paying attention to my internal monologue and I realized I was telling myself I wasn't good enough, all day long, every day. I don't think I was being particularly judgmental of other people, though.

-Katya

LJ said...

Watch the mailbox...Ima send you another letter. And don't worry about replying, this one is just for the reading.

Erin said...

Love you Summer.

Lindsay said...

i feel ya. Kudos for asking for help; it took me a LONG time to get there.

Whistler said...

I guess when I'm feeling envious of others, sometimes I realize they could be envious of me.

Aaaand I like you, and I hope you can keep doing things that make you feel good about life.

Tiffany said...

Funny....that's just another thing we have in common, except that I don't think I realized I had a problem until I was doing better. Maybe we have learned that moving 12 seconds after we had a baby wasn't our best plan?
On a better note, I just wanted to say thanks for helping me have a better attitude about our new life here in Fort Collins. Whenever I'm wishing for LA I think about how much you would love to be here, and it helps me change my attitude.
btw....did you know I stalk your blog? :) I need your email address so I can invite you to the Jones blog. send me an email at tiffany dot leemaster at gmail.

Emily said...

Sometimes in church talks people say God will never give you more than you can handle. I've decided I think that is actually false doctrine.

What I mean is, I'm glad you have cantaloupe and family dates and mini-adventures, and I'm glad you're seeing a counselor. Things will keep getting better. Don't worry. You are good enough.

Cari Dahl said...

Ditto to what Katya said. And I hope things get easier very soon.