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Recalibrating Your Life

post #1 of 31
Thread Starter 
Over the past 2 years, I've developed some major health problems. After some pretty intensive treatments & testing in Aug/Sept, we discovered some of the reasons. I started medication, which seemed to help. Though I don't want meds forever, I really just needed relief from the constant problems. This past week, I have relapsed in a very noticeable way. Long story short, I realize that excess cortisol production over a long period of time can explain all of my other problems (blood sugar imbalance, fluctuating blood pressure, even fibroids and ovarian cysts).

So...my husband said the other night in an off-hand way that it's the stress that's killing me. Literally killing me, not as a figure of speech here. I'm looking at this week, and we have various commitments on our time for every single evening, until about 10 PM on Wednesday and Thursday. I'll be getting up at 4:30 or 5 and not being free from obligations until 10. Though 10 is abnormal, being obligated until 8 or so isn't.

I'm realizing that the only real answer is going to be changing our lives drastically, but I'm afraid of doing that. Anyone done it? I've written in the nutrition forums before about dietary changes, and we have made significant changes to our diets. It's just that I'm now realizing that other changes are necessary, too, and that to save myself, I'm going to have to give up much of the life I have. I don't know what I'm looking for - thoughts, commiseration, ideas?
post #2 of 31
What does your day usually look like?
post #3 of 31
Thread Starter 
I wake up, and in theory, I work out. In reality I'm usually getting chores done. At 5:45, I take a shower. At 6, I wake DH and then work on whatever needs to be done - cleaning up, making lunches - DH & I take salads, so morning-of is the best I know to do. At 7, I wake the kids. They get dressed, breakfast, out the door by 7:40 - drop off DS, DH, DD, then work.

I leave work at 3 and get the kids. DH gets home around 5. (We usually pick him up but are thinking of having him ride the bus.) Between 3:30 and 4:30, we theoretically have time to reconnect, play a game, read. When DH gets home, I make dinner, we eat, and one or more of us usually has some meeting or event.

Kids' bedtime is 8. They're usually not asleep until at least 8:30 (which is its own set of problems). Then I spend a few minutes with DH and try to get something else done but usually am pretty tired. Bed around 10-11.
post #4 of 31
Can you eliminate any of the evening meetings/events? What are your weekends like -- do you get any down time during the weekend?

It sounds like a very hectic schedule. Noone can be constantly on the go for 18 hours per day, something has to give. Perhaps a few quiet evenings at home might help?
post #5 of 31
People are different but it seems to me that you get vey little sleep. If I do to bed at 11, there is no way I am up before 7, preferably 8 (or 9). I had adrenal fatique, most likely due to hypothyroidism, so maybe I still need more sleep than other. It just seems as if you might be driving like crazy on an empty tank.
post #6 of 31
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aaronridge View Post
Can you eliminate any of the evening meetings/events? What are your weekends like -- do you get any down time during the weekend?

It sounds like a very hectic schedule. Noone can be constantly on the go for 18 hours per day, something has to give. Perhaps a few quiet evenings at home might help?
I definitely need to give up some meetings. After last spring, when both kids were in soccer & dance in addition to everything else, DH & I decided that we wouldn't sign them up for anything this fall. We thought that would help, but I don't think we realized how overbooked we were. We have only 1 car right now, but then we had 2. We still were on the go all the time, usually with both of us driving to something.

I've been co-hosting monthly arts exhibits, but those have stopped for the season (last one was last Saturday). I'm also on a couple of nonprofit committees that I may just have to let go or come up with things I can do in my spare time, rather than at a set time. I work volunteer shifts at the women's shelter, though I've cut those back to once per month.

*Some* of the nighttime stuff is work-related. This week, Mon, Wed, Thurs, & Fri are work-related. Then I will teach a workshop on Saturday. Tuesday evening is PTO, which is something I really want to do. We've also had a lot of election-related events - fundraising events for local candidates, leafletting, dropping off signs, etc. - that have taken our time that are done now that elections are over.

Weekends aren't better, really. It's not unusual for us to have 4-5 things on a Saturday. Sundays are "cleaning days," which are supposed to be dedicated to cleaning, laundry, prepping for the week, etc. Unfortunately we've been so spent recently that we don't get everything done on Sunday, which just makes the week worse.

Quote:
Originally Posted by LessTraveledBy View Post
People are different but it seems to me that you get vey little sleep.
Sleep is my greatest enemy. Seriously, I had severe bouts with insomnia that started years ago, back when I typically slept really well. For ages, I didn't sleep much at all but then would swing to needing tons of sleep.

Right now, I do not get enough sleep most nights. If I'm going to get up by 5, then I should be sleeping at 10. So I thought that if I would lie down to read/meditate/otherwise relax at 9:30, then I'd get to sleep by 10. The problem is that I usually feel too wound up by 9:30 and there are things to be done, so I don't do that. I said 10 or 11, but there are many nights when I'm up at midnight. I'm trying to dial that back slowly but probably should just force the issue.


---
I just talked to DH for a bit about it. He agrees that we need to make some changes. Of course when will we have time to implement them? Still, we've agreed that after this week, we will sit down and come up with a plan because our lives are spiraling out of control.
post #7 of 31
You have a ton of volunteer/charitable/political activities. Those are nice, but they are killing you. Just like on an airplane, you have to put the gas mask on yourself first, or you won't be able to help anyone else.

I would stop those immediately. You can volunteer again once the kids are at college.

It sounds like you *need* to be a little selfish right now, in order to properly care for your family. Family has to come first. Actually, *you* need to come first in order to be able to prioritize and take care of your family.

Good luck mama!
post #8 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by HappyMommy2 View Post
You have a ton of volunteer/charitable/political activities. Those are nice, but they are killing you.
if you want to be better, you need to quit a bunch of that stuff and put it off until your kids are older/grown.

How old are your kids? Could you guys take some time in the evenings for everyone to make their own lunch and enrich that house is being left clean and ready for the next day. Then you could stop working when they go to bed and sleep a little later.

Our kids are limited to one activity at a time, which is a sanity saver.

The reason this is a personal growth issue to to look at WHY you think you must work yourself into the ground to be OK as a person. There is some underlying reason why you are forcing yourself to live like this, some belief that you aren't OK just as you are, and that caring for yourself, raising your kids, and nurturing your marriage isn't enough for you to be GOOD.
post #9 of 31
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post
if you want to be better, you need to quit a bunch of that stuff and put it off until your kids are older/grown.
Putting off civic work until the kids are grown isn't a viable option for me. It's vital to my life. I should limit it, and I know that. I suppose the key for me is determining what and how much I can make work in my "ideal" life. I do too much for my current circumstances, and I know that.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post
How old are your kids? Could you guys take some time in the evenings for everyone to make their own lunch and enrich that house is being left clean and ready for the next day.
They are 3 and 5. They do help with some things. DD has lunch at daycare, and DS takes his lunch. He probably could pack his own lunch if I moved him in that direction. I probably do more for my children than I should. More help from my husband would be ideal, but that's not a battle I can wage right now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post
The reason this is a personal growth issue to to look at WHY you think you must work yourself into the ground to be OK as a person. There is some underlying reason why you are forcing yourself to live like this, some belief that you aren't OK just as you are, and that caring for yourself, raising your kids, and nurturing your marriage isn't enough for you to be GOOD.
I'm torn between and . There probably are some really great insights below the surface here. My life is privileged in many ways. I did not have a happy time growing up. I had no permanent home until I was 3; I lived in 10 homes as a child. Life was terrible, but I made it out. I'm okay. I'm alive and fed and sheltered and clothed. And so I should give back because, but for the grace of God, I could be one of the people I help at the homeless shelter or soup kitchen. I'm not so far removed from the people there. In many ways, I *am* those people. I've simply found a stable partner and been blessed with intellect that has allowed me other options. And, so, I suppose the short answer is that to do nothing is not good enough.
post #10 of 31
Mother Teresa was awarded the Nobel Prize "for work undertaken in the struggle to overcome poverty and distress, which also constitute a threat to peace." She refused the conventional ceremonial banquet given to laureates, and asked that the $6,000 funds be given to the poor in Calcutta.

When Mother Teresa received the prize, she was asked, "What can we do to promote world peace?" Her answer was simple: "Go home and love your family ."

Take care of yourself and your family first.
post #11 of 31
Your post really hit home with me. I also got really sick from doing too much for too many people.

Guess what? I was forced to stop people pleasing and let it ALL go. Now I'm healing.

I let it go and got a weekly cleaning lady and now my favorite word is NO. I finally learned how to say it and say it often.

It's hard, but you're worth it. And I'm sure you want to be around to see your kids grow up. If you don't take a break, your body will force you to.
post #12 of 31
before I got married and had kids, I did a ton of volunteer activities and civic/work related stuff. I canvassed for political candidates, i served on tons of committees for work, I was president of my union, I attended city council meetings and school board meetings, I was on a ton of state and national committees for my union, I was a trainer for a national training program, I volunteered with Habitat for Humanity, I played soccer once a week, I attended and followed the local university women's basketball team, I was in a book club, I was on the board for the statewide gay rights group and I am sure there is other stuff.

Once I had my son, I dropped everything. Everything. I stayed home and stared at my beautiful child.

Now, I go to work, I come home, I take my son to the park, and I read him stories at night. On weekends, he does ONE activity (this week and next, soccer and basketball seasons overlap so we do two things on Saturday. ). My partner and I have a fair number of evening obligations for work, but that is the only thing we do during the week--except I go to my book club once a month.

I am so much happier than I ever was when I was doing a million things--even though I loved doing the million things. I highly recommend dropping almost everything, and being really strict with what you sign the kids up for.
post #13 of 31
How much of this over-extension (of yourself) is trying to avoid facing that you can't do everything you did when you were healthier?
post #14 of 31
Another factor to think of is the example you are setting for your children. It sounds as if you had a lot of chaos in yolur childhood that involved many different houses. it's possible to create chaos while living under one roof too. Too much running, too much scheduling, too much "doing".
I think when we have patterns, either negative or positive, it can be hard to make changes even when we identify the need to. Perhaps you don't know how to be still, how to relax, how to slow down your life. And that's ok. You can learn. But it can be scary getting into new territory.
For your own health and the peace of your children and family, you probably should slow down. (And I need to do the same thing!)
post #15 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by VisionaryMom View Post
And, so, I suppose the short answer is that to do nothing is not good enough.
taking care of your own health and spending relaxed time with your family is "doing nothing?"

Based on your first post, it sounds like its vital to your life that you step back.

<<<to save myself, I'm going to have to give up much of the life I have. >>>

It's OK to let other people do what you doing for the community, but no body else can be a mommy to your babies.

And spending a quiet evening with your husband and children is doing something.
post #16 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post
And spending a quiet evening with your husband and children is doing something.
A whole lot of something.
post #17 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by HappyMommy2 View Post
You have a ton of volunteer/charitable/political activities. Those are nice, but they are killing you. Just like on an airplane, you have to put the gas mask on yourself first, or you won't be able to help anyone else.

I would stop those immediately. You can volunteer again once the kids are at college.

It sounds like you *need* to be a little selfish right now, in order to properly care for your family. Family has to come first. Actually, *you* need to come first in order to be able to prioritize and take care of your family.

Good luck mama!
I completely agree. There is a reason election judges and community volunteers are often mostly composed of the gray hair set. They have the time. I would cut all political and volunteer work OUT, except maybe being involved in PTO (but not running it or any committees). Also, husband take turns on the dinner making each night and teaching the kids to do whatever they are old enough to do. From the age of five my kids start learning chores and thing to help with in the house. They learn more tasks as they get old enough to do them (like reach the knobs on the washer/dryer).
post #18 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by VisionaryMom View Post
Putting off civic work until the kids are grown isn't a viable option for me. It's vital to my life. I should limit it, and I know that. I suppose the key for me is determining what and how much I can make work in my "ideal" life. I do too much for my current circumstances, and I know that.


I am sorry, but this is just fundamentally untrue. The previous poster was dead on. You need spend some time thinking about why putting yourself and family first above community when you are SICK, is (do not mean this to hurt, just can't think of a better word) a compulsion for you.

They are 3 and 5. They do help with some things. DD has lunch at daycare, and DS takes his lunch. He probably could pack his own lunch if I moved him in that direction. I probably do more for my children than I should. More help from my husband would be ideal, but that's not a battle I can wage right now.

Make a list of chores you need off your plate and present it to him as a "which of these will you take over to lower my stress and keep me well" and then stop doing them after he chooses even if he does NOT do them. Let him get to a point where he sees the consequences of not doing them if necessary. I stopped doing laundry last year. Just stopped. Did my own and the babies because her stuff get thrown in my hamper. Husband now doing laundry.



I'm torn between and . There probably are some really great insights below the surface here. My life is privileged in many ways. I did not have a happy time growing up. I had no permanent home until I was 3; I lived in 10 homes as a child. Life was terrible, but I made it out. I'm okay. I'm alive and fed and sheltered and clothed. And so I should give back because, but for the grace of God, I could be one of the people I help at the homeless shelter or soup kitchen. I'm not so far removed from the people there. In many ways, I *am* those people. I've simply found a stable partner and been blessed with intellect that has allowed me other options. And, so, I suppose the short answer is that to do nothing is not good enough.
You can give what money you can for now, because for you expending talent and time (as in time, talent and treasure) actually hurts you. I think that the part of the bible where it talks about how there is a season...and a time for every purpose under heaven... applies. You are not seeing that you do not have to do everything you are ABLE to do in the same years or seasons of your life. I can't imagine with the tender ages of your kids, doing all the things you are doing. You are missing so many wonderful moments with your kids being wrapped up in meetings and volunteer options. Wait till their teens and don't want or need to be with you so much for that work. Work, young kids and a home where partner support is not optimal is enough for a healthy woman and you are not in good health right now. A lot of us say "I could never" but if we sit with it a while we realize the only one making us do it is ourselves.
post #19 of 31
Our dd is 5 and I could not imagine being away that much. You even have a younger child. I mean this in the best possible way but don't know how else to put it.... When do you have time for your kids.... just for hanging out? It sounds to me, also, that there is something driving you that may not be healthy.

When you are older and your kids are no longer little, you will have so much more time for all these activities. That is, unless you let them kill you before that time. You are also setting an example to your kids and showing them in action what really matters in your life. (I suppose it is obvious.... I guess I just cannot fathom the need for all these extra activities when the kids are young.)
post #20 of 31
Thread Starter 
There were several things I wanted to quote but didn't because it would be too long (and is anyway). Many of you have given me things to consider. Some of you don't have an accurate picture of my life, and that's okay. I've read the comments and taken many as food for thought. Many made me defensive, which probably is good in the long run.

FTR, my kids are with me pretty much every waking moment that they're not in school or daycare (which are new for both of them). Until 5 weeks ago, they both were with me all the time and had been since DS was born in January 2005. So lay off the guilt about how I never see my children. It's wrong.

I go to maybe 1 meeting a month without them. They accompany us on most of our meetings, as do the children of others involved, so this idea that I never see my children is simply untrue. I plan quiet activities for them if needed, and then we'll grab a hot chocolate after a meeting and chat. Or they're actively involved (putting out yard signs, for instance). They have their own plans for community action. (DS, for example, is putting together business cards of local shelters and soup kitchens for the police to hand out to runaways after we saw a runaway begging for money turned away.)

A friend told me long ago that few people have activist hearts. She is right, and I know that's why some of you cannot understand how compelled I feel to do the things I do. My home may be busy, but my children will never, ever experience the things I did as a child. (Someone tried that comparison a few posts back, but it's inaccurate.) I experienced severe abuse - emotional, sexual, physical. That I lived in many homes is, I think, one of the reasons I'm so incredibly active. The idea of staying or being still is foreign to me. I do meditate. It's a process I'm still learning, but I'm getting there.

After I graduated high school, I went to college and moved for grad school, then jobs. DH & I moved to the very small city where we live in 2005 and bought our current house in Aug 2006. This is by far the longest I've been in one place. When DH & I talked about staying here permanently, we felt that this city lacked a few things that would make it ideal for us. So we agreed that if we stayed, we would work on making those things realities rather than simply complaining about them. (That you do not have to accept your situation but should instead seek to change it is the single most important lesson I want to impart to my children.)

That said, obviously I know that I need to give up some of the work I do. I'm trying to figure that out, and I don't know the answers. I did think about giving everything up last night, and I had a panic attack. Yes, I'm being serious. I ended up on the bathroom floor completely freaking out. The idea of *not* being involved in the community at large is just terrifying to me. I don't really know the "why" of that other than that it makes me feel impotent - as if I have to accept whatever comes along because I'm not working to make it better.

The two things that I know are concerns I don't know how to address are that I don't know what we would do every night at home. I'm sure that sounds silly to some of you, but I honestly don't. We have board games, and the kids have free reign over art & craft supplies, and we read, of course, but as for what to *do* with them, I haven't a clue. I'm afraid that if I dropped everything, I would become one of those hyper-focused moms who pushes my children until they're resentful. I already feel badly that we're not pushing DS to move through the lists of words he brings home more quickly. We do the required homework every night, but it would be easy to fall into the routine of pushing that. The idea of just "being" is...bizarre to me.

The other thing is my husband. For the person who suggested presenting him with a list, I have tried things like that. We've tried all kinds of set-ups. In theory, DH believes that he should do half of everything, which is part of the problem. There's no convincing him to think he should; it's just making him do it.

I don't know how many of you are familiar with abuse recovery, but it's a long, painful process. I spent a good 18 months working on myself through therapy, workbooks, group sessions, crying jags, etc. DH had no problem with that. He was there and picked up *a lot* of slack during that time. So now it seems selfish to complain about what he's not doing. I know that's not particularly logical and that he should be helping, but I get stuck there. Then when he starts saying that he has helped and he does do things, I feel badly and give in. So, yeah, I don't know how to get past my own thoughts on that one.
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