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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
This is a bit of a ramble.

I've learned a little more about what I've been dealing with, and it basically boils down to unsustainable amounts of stress and burnout. I don't really quite fit into the descriptions of an anxiety disorder nor depression, but I experience both. However, the descriptions for burnout and stress, which can include both, describe it perfectly. Which is good news for me, I think. It means that I am experiencing something that seems more manageable. I can't fully fix the fact that I don't carry stress well, that I am emotionally buried by my obligations at an earlier point than most people, but I can make myself more resilient.

I've had to be extremely mindful and self-aware recently, for when I get tired (and my work is physical) I get morose and the self-defeating thoughts get so overwhelming I can barely get my work done. I don't feel the pull to make my thoughts into reality, but the fact that they are present in any way makes me wary.

Last week was the worst. Last night I caught myself before it reached that point. I reminded myself that I shouldn't pay those thoughts much mind because they come when my body is exhausted and I want to stop but I can't. Just wait. Wait. This was incredibly helpful at stopping the morbid spiral, though it doesn't stop the thoughts themselves. It's a fragile, precarious place to exist for a few hours, but I know where the thoughts lead recently, and I can't afford to follow them.

Slowly I am finding a balance in my life. It's not a great place to be, but it is coping in a positive way. Each week, I've been trying to focus one day on housework, one day at least on gardening chores, one day at least for a long walk, not so much time on my intense yoga, but some days for that, other days to just get going. Time during the day for my kids, time for me. Reaching out in small ways and then letting myself retreat into my internal cave. (It is restful there, but the company can get depressing.) Time to create, time to think my own thoughts and time to make myself think of other things.

My soon-to-be-ex says I'm "checking out" and he's not wrong. I am checking out, and I need to not do that, go so far inside myself. It's not something that's easy for me-- it's a lifetime of living that way, and having kids has forced me to draw myself out hour by hour every day. I'm more a person to have a session of interaction, which can be calm or flamboyant and I do both, and then a retreat. I don't do this constant presence "thing". The more stress, the more the pull to retreat. It's a habit of mind. But, I need balance, my girls need me, and I am trying to reframe my reasons for doing things in the same old way. I'm trying to find time for quiet retreat when they are asleep.


It is hard, speaking of retreat, to make full use of the time I have to myself (which usually means times when the girls are occupied). It's hard to fully relax because I feel "on" constantly which I don't need to describe in present company. But I need to make use of that time to decompress properly, or the tension builds and builds on the calcification of all the previous stress.

Oh, dear, I am rambling. But I needed to reach out in a small way. My mind just wants to shut down, and I recognize that some of what is trying to do is cathartic. It is, in part, letting go of old expectations, making room for the state of the world as it is to reduce the cognitive dissonance which creates a lot of the trouble. But in that shutting down comes the self-defeating thoughts which want to run past the healing aspects of letting go and into giving up entirely, literally, not intellectually, giving up. If my body is tired and nothing has happened to buoy me up, I stand on a razor's edge. For the first time I look ahead and seriously consider medication if this starts getting worse.

Balance balance balance. My solo camping trips have been fabulous for me. A chance for the first time in more than a decade to move without consideration of others. Even longer, as xh always felt hurt if I had wanted to do something without him before. It's freeing, strengthening, but it can also be lonely and daunting. That last part comes with the knowledge that this will soon be the status quo. If I can take this moment by moment, day by day, rather than project too far off into the future I am okay. Lonely, but okay.

I originally started writing with the idea to ask others to open up, to share how they take care of themselves and I still would like to hear that, but this took a little turn into a more personal soliloquy.

But I really would like to hear your thoughts. I tend to ask about others by opening up about myself. It seems less intrusive, but the point usually gets lost in the details unless the person I am speaking with thinks the same way.

So, what about you? How to you take care of yourself? How do you make whatever you are battling define you less? Drag you down less? What have you learned about yourself? What steps do you take to help you move, if not freely and with ease, then in a way that keeps you moving forward? How do you manage to keep your relationship with your family generally positive and loving?
 
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So, what about you? How to you take care of yourself? How do you make whatever you are battling define you less? Drag you down less? What have you learned about yourself? What steps do you take to help you move, if not freely and with ease, then in a way that keeps you moving forward? How do you manage to keep your relationship with your family generally positive and loving?

I have suffered for years up and downs of anxiety or depression, and here what I have got so far.

I have my ups and downs, but I take care of myself by working out 3 days a week. This is something I committed to even thou I have anxiety about how I am being selfish and taking away time with my kids and my husband and dog. It took me months and months to get over this. I am off on the weekends and this is my time to spend with them.


I let myself have those down days- So nothing got done- Push again tomorrow.

I accepted that my life as changed and redefined myself but not lose myself. I picked up a hobby- so I would not lose myself in the pressures of housework, work stress, spouse stress....the list could go on.

I am learning each day, and I take the time to stop and look at what I have and not what I don't have.

Each day that is different, and let myself have the ups and downs they are a part of me and I accept this is me.
 

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SweetSilver, I always love reading your rambles. I'm not sure I'll have the energy to respond to this one, but I love hearing someone think the deep, rambly, introspective streams that I experience constantly. It makes me long for a depth of friendship I don't have these days. This topic is particularly apt, and I hope to chime in later.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Each day that is different, and let myself have the ups and downs they are a part of me and I accept this is me.
It brings to mind a line from a favorite song, but it's something I still need to learn because my first reaction is to fix it because it feels bad, which usually makes the problem even worse:

Midnight has been calling me
With a feeling that could be deadly
I can love the fall 'cause that a part of me

It sounds like some of the same things that work for both of us. Or, at least, I'm discovering. It's been a long road to find this balance, and I had to lose it to see the real need for it.

As far as family, yes, I've been feeling the pull to be more present for them. I spent hours and hours in solitude every day, yoga, walking, kitchen stuff. Every chance I got I walked out the door and into the woods, and the neglect started to weigh on me. Last month was busy with cookie sales, dh's work was taking more time as it does in March, and I focused on obligation. Now I'm trying to swing the balance back again, feeling starved for what I had before that.

I can't leave off without leaving the link for the song which immediately pops into my head (an early single from my favorite band, and one that Detroit legend Derrik May says was the first techno track but you didn't really want to know that :p )


Get the Balance Right-- Depeche Mode
There's more besides
Joyrides
The little house in the countryside
Understand
Learn to demand
Compromise
And sometimes lie


Get the balance right
Get the balance right


Be responsible
Respectable
Stable but gullible
Concerned and caring
Help the helpless
But always remain
Ultimately selfish


When you think you've got a hold of it all
You haven't got a hold at all
When you reach the top
Get ready to drop
Prepare yourself for the fall
You're gonna fall
It's almost predictable

Almost


Don't turn this way
Don't turn that way
Straight down the middle until next Thursday
First to the left
Then back to the right
Twist and turn 'til you've got it right


I must be in a musical mood today. That's usually the sign of a good day to come. Today is garden work and chicken coop work, helping the girls with their 4-H project, a short scholarship essay to submit and some planning. Sunny day. I feel sooooo much better.

Speaking of balance-- my urge is to retreat away, and plan for retreating away for good when it seems like the world doesn't want me, but all it has taken to get out of this awful funk of the last few days has been light touches of friendship and rest for myself: popping into my frazzled, recently divorced friend's house (which is on my walk route) to chat for 30 minutes while she made her family dinner (I have pathological reservations about intrusion that prevent this most of the time), a here-and-then-gone-again very dear online friend following my new twitter account, an evening knitting over beer with some wonderful, bawdy women I barely know who have amazing stories of their own and more than anything teach me to listen and laugh and relax in ways I've never been able to before. I don't consider myself as having many friends. I'm not the girlfriend type, but I've been given these opportunities to act like one, and it feels nice. I made myself step out and reach out because it does make me feel better in the end.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
SweetSilver, I always love reading your rambles. I'm not sure I'll have the energy to respond to this one, but I love hearing someone think the deep, rambly, introspective streams that I experience constantly. It makes me long for a depth of friendship I don't have these days. This topic is particularly apt, and I hope to chime in later.
That makes me feel better. I've heard similar comments before, that I've been able to articulate experiences, thoughts and feelings that people share with me. Thank you, and I look forward to your contribution (no pressure!)
 

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I make sure I sleep enough. Also, I nap everyday. Playing upbeat music helps me to get things done as well as making lists and checking them off. I have a tendency to avoid unpleasant tasks, but I've found that facing them sooner gets them off my mental list, which helps alleviate anxiety and depressive thoughts. Taking Vitamin D helps ( I like the gummies), regular sunshine, and having a project to get a tangible sense of accomplishment that I can actually look at. Oh, and laughing at myself and others is a big help.
Others: meditation and active listening. Truly being present is difficult, but trying it for even 5 minutes at a time helps. Lighting a candle or using essential oils, closing my eyes, and then relaxing and listening to the sounds around me. Focusing on nothing else but what my senses pick up. Letting go of "musts" and "shoulds". Accepting the present as okay and being grateful. Realizing that life and living involves struggle, but where can I find moments of joy and lightness?
They say a cure for depression is nature and working in the soil, so there is that too... Touching plants, growing something...
 

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I
As far as family, yes, I've been feeling the pull to be more present for them. I spent hours and hours in solitude every day, yoga, walking, kitchen stuff. Every chance I got I walked out the door and into the woods, and the neglect started to weigh on me. Last month was busy with cookie sales, dh's work was taking more time as it does in March, and I focused on obligation. Now I'm trying to swing the balance back again, feeling starved for what I had before that.
It is nice to hear that I am not the only one that thinks this way. IMO - I truly feel that it is a constant battle. Today is a low day for me, so at work with messy hair and no make-up or effort. Gym today and I don;t want to go but will push myself.

Thanks for sharing your post

Love the song - Depeche Mode - :joy

I am listening to it to as I post :)

I also get those feelings of wanting to run away, so hang tough SweetSilver
 

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I make sure I sleep enough. Also, I nap everyday. Playing upbeat music helps me to get things done as well as making lists and checking them off. I have a tendency to avoid unpleasant tasks, but I've found that facing them sooner gets them off my mental list, which helps alleviate anxiety and depressive thoughts. Taking Vitamin D helps ( I like the gummies), regular sunshine, and having a project to get a tangible sense of accomplishment that I can actually look at. Oh, and laughing at myself and others is a big help.
Sleep is really important and writing down stuff is a great idea. I never do that and if I know what needs to get done then I can plan my days better
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Lists usually stress me out more than mental lists!! But if things are overwhelming, physical lists are a necessary evil.

I did find that making a brand new list each day I think about needing one is better for me than a standing list, which just shouts to me how inept I am at accomplishing things. There are times, for sure, but in general, if it's not important enough for me to remember to place it on the list for the day, day after day, then it probably doesn't need doing. And it's satisfying to both wad up a nearly-done list and throw it in the recycling, and to do the same to a list I didn't touch. (Something about physically destroying the list is more liberating than not letting it have a hold on me in the first place.)

(If this seems odd, one of the reasons I can't stand compliments from xh about something I did because it reminds me more about what I "should" have been doing-- just like those stupid lists! And I know I won't sustain it, even if I try really hard, so the compliment reminds me of that, and how unbearable the status quo must be to elicit a compliment in the first place. Life just gets in my way of accomplishing stuff-- changes of plan, no energy, not really prioritizing it-- and if it's just me I don't care, but it's never just me anymore, is it?)
 

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Your mention of compliments reminded me of something. One of the lists I used to have was simple things to do each day/week to help me feel better. Small things like make the bed, give yourself 3 compliments, meditate, journal for 10 minutes, stretch, take a picture, take a vitamin, give a compliment, etc. These were manageable things and if I missed them, I let them go.
One of the biggest things I've found is to counterbalance the negative voice in one's head, the ideal we set up for ourselves and that we still hold ourselves to. For me, that has been a long road and I still struggle with it, but I am beginning to see it more and more clearly for what it is. I've begun to reason with my expectations and views of myself, whom I can be very hard on.
Going back to compliments, I was told repeatedly that I had a hard time accepting compliments and would often downplay them or make some self-depricating remark. I've realized when I've not responded when receiving one. What I've personally come to realize for myself is how hurtful that is to both myself and others. For myself, it says I'm not worthy of that, that isn't true, that's a lie and whatever part of me blocking that is a big bully. For others, it is devalueing THEM and their view, it tells you you don't care about their opinion or compliment, that they are worthless to you. So, I try to take it in now, to feel it, to say thank you. It's hard and I know I wasn't always this way. I'm not sure what happened, but I am not going to let the part of me that wants to keep beating me up win.
 
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I can relate to that

I've been reading these posts with interest. I often think of myself as "less than" other people, and I've been trying to stop it. I have been trying to be more aware of what other people do/experience in a good sense, in that they have their own life, and focussing less on how they may be judging me/let go of how they've let me down. I do try to bring myself back to what's good when I find myself dwelling on the negative. I have finally allowed myself to have the prescription meds to make life better for me, despite the cost.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I do have a calendar instead of a list, and I record things like my yoga sessions, my runs, my walks, and my meditations. Same idea, but the other way, which I suppose could be a good arrangement for some people and not others.

Yes, the negative voice is a bitch. And a bully, yes. Accepting a compliment in the heart is a gift for everyone.

But.

I think about the situation with my husband, and that's different than accepting a compliment from another person. In this exchange, there are "shoulds" coming from both sides, and my challenge has been to uncover and give voice to the side of me buried by those shoulds. Because, alternatively, I "shouldn't" make people feel uncomfortable for not accepting something. It's a tangled web of obligation, and the first phase is to step completely outside of that, and it is raw and messy and sometimes inconsiderate, but I couldn't resolve it any other way. I needed to feel what it is like to allow myself to feel and express that part of me because I found that her truth has been squashed for years and decades by the shoulds and shouldn'ts, and she does speak truth. I needed to feel like she is right for once, and one of the things she has been saying to me and through me to my husband is "you judge me, and I therefore judge myself. I don't want your compliments on how the house looks nice today. It makes me feel bad, but yes, the house looks nice today."

I know that sounds bad, but... we are (shocker) getting a divorce and I really don't want to be with a partner anymore. I need so much to step outside of seeing myself through the imagined eyes of someone else, and living with someone is painful to me. "The mirrors" I call it, and they are huge and unavoidable and grotesque sometimes even unless I can get away from people. Away from people they skrink down to a manageable size. I haven't quite figured this out. But unfortunately for my husband and my marriage, well, part of the healing for me is painful for him. And I cannot absolutely cannot afford to give that too much weight.

So I can be baffling and impossible now but you know? When I find my way back to being a civil person who wants to share her life with someone, I will act with kindness because I can feel the opposite, free from the intellectual burdens of "should". Maybe that's just who I am... I need to bump up against something to feel it and watch it and hear it. I know myself better these days. I have more discipline of mind, not because I've decided that intellectually it would be better, it's because I've taken it to its breaking point and found what is working and what isn't. Maybe as a child I was made overly cautious and missed that phase :p and am living it to its fullest.

And, yes, a few toes are going to be stepped on in the process and smashed. But it has been the alternative that has slowly woven me a prison so tight it wouldn't even let it enough light to see myself. If I make a mistake speaking my heart, well, I'll get the message.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Postscript:

But where did I read recently that the awkwardness of accepting a compliment actually stems from an indebtedness it puts you in, which makes you think twice about how we offer compliments and why we feel we need to accept them. If I can remember the article, I will post it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
The giving and receiving of compliments is very similar to the giving and receiving of gifts, and they generate the same feelings of obligation:

https://aeon.co/opinions/why-receiving-compliments-can-feel-like-a-high-price-to-pay

This forced choice – fulfil your obligation to return the praise or resign yourself to guilt – comes from belonging to a society structured around commodities and their exchange. The trouble is, if compliments are transactions, feeling that we’re beholden is a natural state of affairs. To imagine that we could completely overcome our ways of thinking about compliments, however, requires rethinking our social and economic forms of life.
 

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I think you speak of a different side of compliments than the one I am referring to. If they are ones that come from a place that you know carries another message of "this is how it always should be" and a sense of obligation, then it can certainly feel insincere and not like a real compliment. That isn't the place of receiving compliments that I am referring to. Nor is it the place where one feels the need to give one in return. I am speaking of allowing oneself to truly take in a (sincere) compliment, to feel it, to not always question it, reduce it, ignore it.
That has been a personal battle with compliments- different than yours in some ways.
 

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Your mention of compliments reminded me of something. One of the lists I used to have was simple things to do each day/week to help me feel better. Small things like make the bed, give yourself 3 compliments, meditate, journal for 10 minutes, stretch, take a picture, take a vitamin, give a compliment, etc. These were manageable things and if I missed them, I let them go.
One of the biggest things I've found is to counterbalance the negative voice in one's head, the ideal we set up for ourselves and that we still hold ourselves to. For me, that has been a long road and I still struggle with it, but I am beginning to see it more and more clearly for what it is. I've begun to reason with my expectations and views of myself, whom I can be very hard on.
Going back to compliments, I was told repeatedly that I had a hard time accepting compliments and would often downplay them or make some self-depricating remark. I've realized when I've not responded when receiving one. What I've personally come to realize for myself is how hurtful that is to both myself and others. For myself, it says I'm not worthy of that, that isn't true, that's a lie and whatever part of me blocking that is a big bully. For others, it is devalueing THEM and their view, it tells you you don't care about their opinion or compliment, that they are worthless to you. So, I try to take it in now, to feel it, to say thank you. It's hard and I know I wasn't always this way. I'm not sure what happened, but I am not going to let the part of me that wants to keep beating me up win.

I could not accept compliments until I probably read it somewhere and instantly I began saying a simple Thank You and accepting them. It didn't give me any sense of ego in doing so and it did not make me uncomfortable so I have been doing it ever since.
 

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I just put this on another thread. I watched a PBS documentary This Emotional Life. I highly recommend it. It'll give you an understanding of depression and that it's physiological not just emotional.


TC
 

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Thanks for your "ramblings" SweetSilver. For ramblings they strike me as very articulate! I can't tell you how much I can relate to them.
It's the wrong time for me to be adding my own thoughts, but wanted to write a post so I can come back to this thread and read it in more depth when I have time.
I will say that B vitamins have helped me a lot, to increase stamina when so much is demanded of me and I don't have time to take care of myself. One good-quality B vitamin in the morning has helped ward off the anxiety that comes with fatigue at the end of the day.

Your musical references brought to mind one of my own favourites, which I mentally turn to when I need it, from Hawksley Workman's "No Beginning, No End":
Don't dive shallow in deep dark water
Now I've got that song in my head... I listened to it a lot before I had children, but now I only have the time to run the tape in my head, rather than try to find a way to be alone to listen to it on a stereo. Just thinking of it, among other songs from the soundtrack of my life, can still relax me and make me feel more fluid in times of stress.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
@head4thehills

Thanks. I was just thinking of music today. (I had to go back a reread this thread. What fits for one day doesn't fit for another. It seems I've been retreading the same ground some, but I feel better. I've had a few very dark days, though. Less trouble day to day.)

Friday I just saw the band I've been hyperfocused on, and a song of theirs became something I could have written about my life the last few months. I've been known to play this a few dozen times in a row, until I become deaf to the lyrics:

"Arena"-- VNV Nation

Before me plays the endless film
Relentless splinters I recall
Each living thing breathes life
Only sentiment remains
To liquid born, from patterns formed
The sand descends with blind intent
Where the river takes me will in time be revealed

I cannot turn my feelings down
Beyond my means to turn my thoughts around
Expressed in every word I'll ever speak
Brighter than all the stars combined
More than the waters, earth and sky
All that I wish and all that I dream

Above the waves with my hands raised
Dare the wind, lay claim to me
Knowing somehow none could take me
Watching the sun come up in vain
The only reason I can find why I remained
The need to leave the point I came to again and again

It didn't matter how hard I tried
It took so long to claim that I knew how
Or what it meant to let go of this
To ever say goodbye
Call it destiny, call it fate
Chose my direction: running forward
Each life to learn anew, whatever may come

I cannot turn my feelings down
Beyond my means to turn my thoughts around
Expressed in every word I'll ever speak
Brighter than all the stars combined
More than the waters, earth and sky
All that I wish and all that I dream

No creed on earth can replace or provide
In my darkest hour, the comfort I'd feel
Leading me to see I can be more than I expect of me
My beginning and my end
The first and last air that I breathe
More than the sum of everything that I will ever be
 
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