It has been a really big couple of weeks. I have been back at work for two months already; I have exceeded my expectations with it so much which makes me incredibly happy and proud, but I feel like I have sort of been in a "honeymoon period" with it and I have been running on mostly adrenaline (and coffee... always coffee), but this last week I have found myself feeling a bit overwhelmed and run-down...
I honestly don't really know where to start. This last week in particular has felt both challenging and rewarding for one big reason - I was officially discharged as a patient from my psychiatrist last Thursday. I first saw him when I was admitted to the Mother Baby Unit, sitting on a couch, sobbing my heart out, holding tiny Isaac in my arms before practically begging my sister to take him from me. From that minute, we have worked together to get me to where I am today. A grateful Mum, a working Mum, an anxious Mum ~ but a (mostly) stable Mum. I was told that I wouldn't be seeing this doctor as an outpatient, but somehow I continued to have appointments as there were constant ups and downs, medication tweaks and always something to work on. For the first time in 18 months, I am starting to wean from one of my three consistent medications. I won't go into too much detail with those as it's largely boring, but it's a big deal to me. One medication in particular was the only way I was able to leave the Mother Baby Unit; but all of these medications have side effects, and to be blatantly honest I am now completely addicted to this one in particular. The weaning process will be slow and might cause some set-backs, but there is a plan in place and I am hoping that I will be able to cope and implement other ways to deal with any anxiety that may come up. I know that I will probably be on some form of medication for the rest of my life (and I have no problem with that), but the amount and frequency of what I'm taking is finally able to reduce because I am coping. I AM COPING. I am taking the win and claiming it 100%. I'm finally in a position to try to take a bit more control of my own mind and see what happens over the next year or so while I wean (with the help of my GP) and see what other things I can do to try to ease the anxiety/panic/depression. I could never thank my psychiatrist enough for what he's done for me. I know it's his job, but I trusted him completely to make major decisions about what I needed to make my life bearable through whatever struggle I was facing. He knows more about what I've been through than anyone. I told him things I was scared to say out loud. I will be forever grateful to him and am honestly going to miss seeing him on a regular basis as he has been such a big part of my support system for the last year and a half. But it is all positive, it means I am moving forward and that things are getting better.
Having said that, I have felt like I have been sinking a bit as I try to keep up with everything going on at the minute. I am hoping to pick up another day of work in the next few months and am quickly realising that I need to put some things in place to prevent burning-out. Isaac's sleep is still quite up and down, he is incredibly demanding through the day and when he is asleep, I am rushing around trying to get housework and meal prep done, the whole time wishing I was chilled out enough to just leave some of it and relax for a minute or two. People do that, right? I'm jealous of you who can with your healthy minds! Haha.
I have realised that since going back to work, I was considering that "me" time. It is, to a certain extent, but it also work... hard work. I rarely have a lunch break (I need to make more of a conscious effort to do this), and when I get home it's straight into getting dinner for an over-tired, grumpy Isaac, then getting him into the bath and ready for bed, then organising dinner for Reid and I, then falling into bed by 8pm before Isaac's usual first wake-up at around 11pm. I was coping with this quite fine until this week, when I realised just how tired I am getting. (Side note: I absolutely realise that a lot of parents have it MUCH harder than I do, I am merely talking about my own experience and feelings and take my hat off to all parents as it is truly the most tiring job in the world without factoring in the million other things there are to do on a daily basis). The adrenaline and general high that had been fuelling me during those earlier weeks at work is starting to fade a bit as I realise every second of every day is currently accounted for. Reid and I had a big talk about how we are both doing (it's good to check in with each other every now and then about this I think). Reid stays up later than me to play his Xbox. He would play it 24/7 if he could! I just can't keep my eyes open past 8:30pm so I tend to go straight to bed. When my Mum has Isaac, I do some housework after work on a Friday and then Reid and I get a couple of hours together baby-free before I am once again in bed by 8pm and he gets some video game time. Mum does have Isaac most Friday nights and I am so incredibly grateful for that. It seems like I don't have cause to complain, but I still feel depleted. I am all about the honesty on my blog and I don't know if it's because of my mental health, or just my struggles with motherhood in general, but I just need more time to re-charge, and it isn't happening at the minute. So, I've done what any borderline OCD person does (not making fun of OCD, this is literally a diagnosis) and have made a diary full of categories, each category with a list (so good for my anxiety) and one of the main categories is self-care. To be honest, I'm not very good at it. Just thinking about it now makes me feel guilty, like I don't deserve any time on my own because that's not what being a mother is about. Everything is meant to be about our children. I am currently doing an online program (more about that later - it's AMAZING) that is giving me some of the best advice, best anxiety-easing topics and is just all around making me carefully consider what type of parent I want to be and what type of example I want to set for Isaac (and any other children if we do decide to have more). I want them to know that it's OK to take some time out, step back, look after themselves, do what brings them joy - that's not always going to involve me, and for me, it's not always going to involve them (yep, I said it... Mums and Dads need a break!) I know it's not possible for everyone, and once again, I take my hat off to you - because I am already dangerously close to burning out and I have only been at work for two months, three days a week.
Basically, I've come to the conclusion that Reid and I need to make sure we are taking care of each other as a couple, and as individuals, with Isaac always our top priority of course. For me, that looks like taking some more time out to write, to start going for walks on the beach by myself on the weekends, reading more, doing more stretching/yoga, drinking coffee for enjoyment and not just a caffeine hit, maybe even having the occasional nap and also making time to just lounge around in front of the TV. I know not all of these things will happen all the time, but I need to pick one when I am feeling overwhelmed and really make time for it. For Reid, as long as he gets time to play his Xbox and go to karate he is pretty happy - although I definitely want to make sure that really is enough and that we are both taking care of ourselves both physically and mentally. Parenting is hard work and we need to be at our very best to take care of these little people who rely on us for everything. If we are feeling over-tired, overwhelmed and on-edge, we simply aren't going to be the best parents we can be. It's the same for our babies when you think about it - if they are over-stimulated and not getting enough rest, they turn into cranky, unsettled and grumpy little people. We all need time. There's no shame in that and I'm hoping the guilt attached to these thoughts will gradually fade away as I learn to get the balance right between being a good Mum & wife, employee, family member, friend and just all-around person. Nobody likes a grumpy Katy, particularly me - so here's to creating new habits, being proud of how far I have come, but realising that this is a journey that takes time - and some of that, needs to be just for me.