Monday, May 24, 2010

Decisions, decisions.

If you had to choose between depression and anxiety, which would you choose?

I feel like that's the choice I'm facing, although not at a clinical level. I'm pretty even-keeled, mostly. But that gets tested during major upheavals like, oh, say . . . buying a new home and moving to a new stake, school, city, blah blah blah, in a month.

I shouldn't feel stressed OR anxious. Our time frame to move is flexible but I have a lot of self-imposed deadlines set that I'm struggling to meet. Deadlines are how I get things done, but at the same time, they're making me nuts. I keep starting and tackling different projects and little to nothing is happening. This makes me feel depressed. To be sure, it's not the dark twisty kind of depression that other people suffer with. I'm more on the blues/funk end of things. But I don't like it because it takes me out of my happy orbit.

The solution is to get things done. That's hard with a toddler and a nursing newborn. Oh, and one dental emergency after another (whole different blog post). My current strategy is to tackle things I know I can finish, even if they're not the most important things. This is why I shop Craigslist exhaustively while nursing (just scored a $100 upright 20 cu. ft freezer for the garage today--woot!) but the dishes go undone. I can't keep up with the volume for one thing, and for another, I can't do them one handed. And when the baby does let me put her down, I usually choose to do something else for those blessed ten minutes.

Don't ask me what. I have no idea. I just know it's not dishes.

I haven't been able to edit for days and I really want my manuscript cleaned up by June 1, but . . . I'm using free time (HA!) to do things like buy paint samples for our new walls and exercise because . . . 

Uh, my pants don't fit. And I sometimes don't have time to shave my legs which makes a full conversion to skirts kind of tricky.

Anyway, I was saying (and mind you, the tangents here are pretty much a road map for how my days go: start cleaning my bedroom, get distracted by changing a dirty diaper, end up trying to locate a tax number for something because I found a paper I forgot about by the diapers, etc. and so forth, GAH!), the solution is to get stuff done. 

And I do know how to do that. Make a list, prioritize, and execute. And I know how to prioritize. I can, when I choose, order things in a way that makes sense. If I do the things that will make my family happier and more comfortable, this will ultimately stress me out less than shutting everything out and revising, which is what I desperately want to do. If I chose to revise all day, I'd feel good about doing that in the same way I would feel good about getting a pedicure, but I'd feel guilty that dinner wasn't cooked and that Grant never got out of his pajamas (you know, because changing his clothes each morning is a half hour project due to his extreme emotional attachment to whatever he fell asleep in).

If I play Mussolini and get all my trains running on time, I CAN do it all. Clean, cook, exercise, play with kids, revise, do errands, and even blog. 

But it's at a price.


Because if I regiment the day, and things don't go as planned, my anxiety skyrockets and I LOSE IT when things don't go right. We're talking wig-flipping crazy. We're talking flinging myself on my bed to sob angrily if James takes too long with his homework or Grant spills something that I didn't schedule for.

If things go right, we're all genuinely happy. But I have to gamble that they'll go right and the universe will, for the next thirty days, cease its endless mockery of all my "plans."


Do I stay in my funk, leaving my family mildly dissatisfied with the condition of everything but more or less all right? OR. Do I embrace my control freak tendencies, plan religiously, and have my family swing between deep contentment and well-being and hide-under-the-bed wariness when something goes awry?

Depression and anxiety, meet rock and a hard place.


Kristina P. said...

Haven't had depression. Can't answer that one. Do have anxiety. And man, it really sucks sometimes. Boo for both, I say.

Kazzy said...

Having a new baby adds the hormones deep into the mix too. Sorry you are stressed out. Life is good, and everything that really matters? You have it.

Kelly O. said...

Depression AND anxiety are a constant in my life. Sometimes I manage sometimes I don't. I become very attached to the clothes I fall asleep in too, that is, if I manage to fall asleep. Go easy on yourself. And under no circumstances judge or compare. You have great kids and a husband that might just be as great as Dave. Hang in there. I have decades of therapy under my belt and will never go off zoloft again in my life. It is one day or sometimes one hour at a time for me. What is this planning and scheduling you speak of? Call me. Loves.

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

I'm sorry, Melanie. You do have too much on your plate right now, which explains the aversion to dishes. :) Is is possible to insert an option #3 in the mix, like a realistic-expectations kind of list with no schedule? For example: 1. Feed baby 2. Do dishes once. 3. 15 minutes of editing. 4. One other item on my to-do list. 5. Open my scriptures. Then work on any given one whenever the circumstances allow it. Anything else that gets done is a bonus. Kind of more like Musilini would have done if he had 3 children and a buttload of household responsibilities and a realization that his mental health was slipping. :)

Susan said...

You sound overloaded. You need some sleep. It'll all be over soon. Just keep telling yourself that. Maybe you could hire some help?

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

oh girl. New babies do that to everyone.Even w/out moving and all other stresses. It's like your whole life has to go on hold for a few weeks, except nobody will let you do that!

MommyJ said...

I hear you when it comes to the newborn. I hardly ever get to put mine down. What I've done is simply lower my expectations so that I can stay in the place that might have made me mildly bummed before, but still be happy about it. Dirty dishes totally rock, because my husband will have to bring home a pizza since I don't have anything clean to cook with. A messy playroom means the toys are easier to find. Dirty laundry means it really IS okay to stay in pajamas all day cause nothing else is clean! SO much to be happy about!

Lara said...

The mean reds vs. the blues. Like Holly Golightly said:

" know those days when you get the mean reds?"
"The mean reds? You mean like the blues?"
"No... the blues are because you're getting fat or because it's been raining too long. You're just sad, that's all. The mean reds are horrible. Suddenly you're afraid and you don't know what you're afraid of. Do you ever get that feeling?"

I tend toward the blues. Neither are much fun.

And a new baby is tough, ill-fitting pants and non-shaved legs and diapers. All by itself a new baby is hard! It makes it even worse when you have to move at the same time. Good luck! All will work out.

InkMom said...

We have the pajama problem, too. So now, I simply declare a pajama day and then if MayDay is still wearing his when it's time to go to bed again, I can actually check it off the list as an accomplishment I actually followed through on.

Keep hanging in.

Wish I were meeting you this weekend.

Braden said...

Good luck, Melanie. I wish I had some great piece of wisdom that would solve every problem. My wife and I have struggled with this over the years. Trying to do a dissertation and being bishop with a new baby, her trying to be a mom and keep the family running. My personal feeling is that there are times and seasons when you just have to drop several balls, accept that you are dropping them, and move on with a few less balls in the air. For example, we've just accepted the fact that our house will be fairly messy. We have a small house and lots of kids. We do basics, like dishes and laundry, but don't worry too much about deep cleaning. Good luck. Things will get easier as the baby gets a little older.

Amber Lynae said...

Your plate is full enough to feed the strippling warriors for a year. I know that half heart attempts normally get you know where (at least if you are me.) but if it was me I think I would have to have certain days that were my anxiety days, they are my go go go days. and then the next day would be my pamper myself and let things lie. or maybe one go go go day for every two "pampered" revision days.

I know both moving and a newborn are both big adjustments.

NIKOL said...

You don't have to choose between depression and anxiety. I say you choose cake.

Embrace the chaos, Melanie J.

becca said...

Why is there such a stigma about lowering the expectation? When it can't all get done, deciding which parts matter somehow doesn't seem, well, quite virtuous enough.

But really, if you have enough plates for four meals, do they all have to be washed at the same time? (And I get that - yes, sometimes they do.)

At my house, nobody's crawling/lying on the floor, so if the living room floor gets neglected for a while, nobody's choking. Letting a few things go is not the same as slumming. Prioritizing is a great blessing, isn't it? Let your guys help you decide which things are needful, and let them help you accomplish them. (Says the girl who hangs out all alone for several hours at a time and still has dirty bathrooms...)

CaJoh said...

I heard somewhere that to-do's can be categorized according to fruit:
Apples: those things that you do every day.
Grapes: those little things that can be done quickly and that usually occur in bunches.
Lemons: those things you just don't want to do.

Looking at your to-do's that way may make it easier to let one go every now and then to keep a better handle on the load.

Melinda said...

I hear ya, we're looking at moving in the next month or two (we live in an AWFUL neighborhood--HORRIBLE) and I'm considering staying just so I don't have to go through packing and moving again. It sucks so bad. Good luck with everything, I don't know what to tell you, just do what you have to do to survive! :)

DeNae said...

Wow. It's been a while since I read such a comprehensive list of unrealistic expectations.

And take it from me, my friend. You don't want either anxiety or depression. Yep. I've got little happy pills in my medicine chest for both, and I can trace the beginnings of the depression at least to a time and list just like what you're describing.

Honestly, Mel. This is just way too much. The book is going to have to wait. Diapers need changing and kids need feeding. Use paper plates and plastic spoons and all the other earth-killing stuff until after your move. If Greenpeace gives you static, have them call me.

Hire a cleaning service to come take care of your house. Have them do everything: the dishes, clean the oven, the microwave. Everything.

The only thing you should be thinking about right now is getting your family moved, healthy and sane. Period. That's all. There just isn't time or room in your psyche for anything else.

Having a baby is huge. Moving is huge. You can't do any more huge things. Let it go, for now. I promise, the mess is temporary, but as someone who has been treated for depression for 15 years and anxiety for 3, those devils can last a lifetime.

They can shorten it, too. You and your family deserve better.

Love you! Call me if you need a shoulder or a cheerleader!

Amber said...

Oh can I relate. It feels like the more I plan the more I stress and the more I flip out. I will also point out that sleeplessness amplifies all existing problems or creates its own.

I have no solutions because I am having the same problems. Do I write? Do I blog? Do I do the dishes? Do I tackle the eternal laundry load? There are so many demands that it often seems worthless to even try.

In Julie Beck's recent GC talk she mentions using the Spirit to help us prioritize our daily schedules. I have yet to do this but it sounds like a pretty good idea.

Hang in there. I hope it helps to know that many women feel the same way you do.

That Girl said...

I'd take anxiety. But maybe you have a touch of both?

I swear it's the third baby. It's ALWAYS the third baby.

Wonder Woman said...

Love Steph's advice.

I was kinda like this about a month ago. except without the valid reasons of moving and editing/CAREER. Then I realized that post-partum starts around 2 mos. Your hormones are really shifting again. So I think that's part of it.

Honestly, I don't have any clear insights or words of wisdom. But one thing that has saved my life is a Moby wrap. You can buy them online for about $40, or you can buy stretchy specialty cotton (the kind that bathing suit cover-ups and sarongs are made out of) and make your own. 6-7 yards, cut down the middle till it's about 18 inches tall. (Then you actually have two.) Look at to find how to wrap them. Eden can sleep on your chest for hours and you still have two hands!!!!! I tell you, it has saved my life.

Kimberly said...

I so understand this because it`s my life. Well, my life minus crazy upheaval of moving and manuscript deadline and my baby is finally sleeping more at night and...

...oh wait, my life is EASY compared to this. Never mind.

My solution is, and has long been, the done list. On the hard days I write down everything I accomplish as I accomplish it. Helps me fight the apathy, takes away the weight of the To Do list (which can be suffocating and too regimented for the flexible baby-driven existence). When things are really bad I post it somewhere semi-public or email it to some close friends. I`ve done it in google chat window form with close gal pals and we`ve kept each other going.

Hope you find your way out of that tight, squeezed from both sides feeling. It`s hard to feel like you`re actually living when you can hardly breathe.