Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Project: Me?

I have to go somewhere.

Up, preferably.

I've been in the dumps lately. If you've read this blog for more than about 5 minutes, you already know that. I like to call it "raw honesty" but there's a thin line before I cross over to self-indulgent whining. I know I'm there, at the precipice of alienating readers who are tired of my constant string of depression. I know I need to do something... for myself? About myself? Within myself? I need to - even more, I WANT to - change my thinking, and I want my words here to keep me accountable for it.

I see the beauty, love, and goodness in others. I see it all around me. I can absorb it and learn from it and celebrate it. But I have a very VERY hard time seeing it in myself. I'm sure it's not that I can't recognize goodness all around me; it's that I can't recognize it in myself. I want to. I wish I could will myself to accept a compliment or believe that I am loved. I know it's possible to do this. But for some reason I hear my voice say the words, "Yes I am loved. Yes I am a good person," and still my heart calls me a liar.

I don't know what the solution is. I probably need to talk to a doctor about getting some medication. I might need to see a counselor. Maybe in 6 months I will read back through these entries and realize that this was part of my therapy.

Sometimes I feel like I'm in the middle of a brain teaser. You find yourself in a room with 4 walls, a floor and a ceiling. No windows, just a board and a saw. How do you get out? I know the answer is there, but I don't know how to figure it out.

I have to change something. I can't keep going, doing what I've been doing for the last however many months, and expect my situation to change without me making any changes. What's that about the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results? It's not that I languish in the negativity; rather, I just can't wrap my head around what to do in order to be happy. The very negative thoughts that surround me are the same ones that rob me of any confidence that I might be able to get myself out of this rut. I'm not happy, but I can't get happy because the unhappy feelings drive down my motivation to do anything to change my situation.

But, here I sit, ready to take a step. YOU ARE ALL WITNESSES. Another thing that keeps me from making changes to myself, even positive ones, is knowing my own track record on changes. New changes don't have the best staying power when I'm in charge of them. New habits die quickly and old habits are nearly impossible to break. That's why I want to keep track of my journey HERE on the blog. It will keep me accountable to quit getting sucked into the drama and instead focus on making positive changes for myself.

And my children. And my marriage. And my whole family.

I want to be whole again. I want to love fearlessly. I want to breathe in life and let the sun shine on my face.

Honesty time: I have been avoiding reading blogs because when I see others' happy lives, I feel sad for myself. When I see other people having a good time with their kids, I regret not doing more with my own children. When I read the carefully woven words of blog authors I admire, I criticize my own skills.

And, again, this is why I've even been absent from my own blog. I am not looking for anyone to say "Oh, you are a great writer!" or "You are a good mother." It reminds me of gorgeous people who say, "Look at how awful I look!" just so someone will say, "Are you kidding? You look fantastic!" Because really, positive comments from other people are kind an generous but it's like shooting arrows at a concrete wall: they don't penetrate. They don't stick. And it's not that the comments aren't sincere, it's not that I think people are feeding me lies. It's more that, I can't feel them.

Okay, so, back to Project: Me. I don't know how to change but I know I don't want to stay the same, so I'm going to try. It is going to feel really unnatural for a while, until I can find some comfort with a new set of thoughts and a new vision of myself.  Like I said, I'm going to use this blog to stay accountable for my changes. I am going to keep everyone updated on what I'm doing and I will post regularly about my progress. I will let you know if the changes I'm making are making a difference. I am not going to go into this and revamp everything from day one; instead I'm going to try to do one thing a day from a list of many things. Here's my list:

1. Do some type of dedicated exercise (and quit believing "chasing kids around the house" counts as a workout)
2. Eat 4 servings of fruits/vegetables
3. Limit my soda intake to 1 can a day
4. Read the bible for 15 minutes
5. Limit my total daily computer time to 1 hour
6. Initiate more romance with my husband
7. Do not raise my voice to the kids, but instead stop & breathe & count to 5

I don't ever expect to do all those things in one day. I hope to just do one thing a day and maybe eventually 2 or more. Those are just the things I can DO. I'd also like to make a list of things I can THINK

1. Ask for help and don't feel guilty when people are reluctant. Just say "thank you" and accept the help.
2. Accept compliments. Then, repeat the compliment to myself twice.
3. Recognize one thing I did well over the course of the day.
4. Recognize one thing someone else did for me over the course of the day and thank them for it.
5. Don't assume I know what people are thinking. I can't control their thoughts.
6. Love myself the way God loves me and the way my children love me.

Also, a few things I'd like to do every day, no matter what:
Get up early and shower and comb my hair.
Read to my children
Take 15 minutes for me (taking pictures, reading a book, something that is ONLY for me)
Plan out our daily meal

If you've read this far already, bless your heart, you are a trooper! I am going to try to check in on Mondays (I guess) to report on how I'm doing. I'm also going to try (fingers crossed!) to keep a journal of my daily progress. It will help me keep my lists in view and a reminder of positives instead of negatives.

It's going to be easy to slip back into the hole. I think it's almost more socially acceptable to chastise ourselves than it is to pay ourselves a compliment. Why is that anyway? But I'm going to keep going, keep pushing forward, and maybe start figuring it out.

Texan Mama


Kelley said...

I hate that you are feeling this way! I remember meeting you in Austin and thinking you were such a nice, genuine & kind person. A "real" person- which was refreshing! I hope that your days get brighter and brighter as each one passes!

Donna@My Sweet Things said...

I appreciate your honesty and courage and I hope that putting these thoughts and feelings out to the universe will guide you along your journey. We all have times in our lives where self doubt creeps in. Even those bloggers that seem to have perfectly happy lives have down days. They just choose not to share them. Smoke and mirrors baby. I myself don't post if I have a down day...mostly because my Mom reads my blog and she would be all over me.."what's wrong Mijita?" lol - You are not alone on this journey. Hugs to you.

Ash said...

Oh sweetheart, I'm so sorry. You're not alone. I completely agree with your list - especially the exercise part. It gave me my life back. The challenge is finding the time. Promise me you will. Ditto on the sodas. Caffiene only increases the feeling of anxiety. Do not hesitate to talk to a doctor, I only wish I had a good one to recommend.

Love and hugs and prayers to you. Remember, you aren't alone!!

Ellen Stewart (aka Ellie/El/e/Mrs. Seaman) said...

I'm a trooper! I'm a trooper! I read the whole thing! Just don't quiz me on it, okay? Which is good about me 'cause I won't remember the things I think you're asking us all to hold you accountable too.


My husband has a doctor's degree in The Gospel according to John AND marriage and family therapy. He would say, "Ask yourself this question, 'Do you feel a cloud of sadness is following you or hanging over you?'" If your answer is yes, my little Texan friend, then you SHOULD seek meds and perhaps counseling.

Such meds are so often poo-pooed by our society, but you know, things in our brain go off kilter just like then do with our cycles, our bowels, and our hearts (the pumping kind). Biology is biology, and if this is what it takes for you to stopping beating yourself up, then it's a gift from God.

Take care of yourself first or you'll be no good for taking care of others, and your older kids will become aware of it.

Beetle1909 said...

I am sorry your having such a hard time, I love your blog and honesty. I was in a bad funk at one point and I started writing done 10 things a day I was grateful for, helping me focus on what was good in my life, Don't know if this would help, just thought I would share.

PS, I'm a lurker, first time I've commented :)

Stacy Lynn said...

Wow, my thoughts about myself and life in general have been nearly identical to yours for a long time now and I am also trying to make changes in myself and my life. I signed up for a 12-week intensive program at the gym today, yes, I did! That's my start. I don't know what's next, but your list sounds pretty good to me, though I admit only one can of Coke a day might kill me and I don't think my 19 year old daughter would appreciate it much if I woke her up to read to her. lol I'll be checking back to see how you're doing. Maybe we can encourage each other.

Gigi said...

Sister, you are NOT alone in this type of struggle; I promise. Meds might be in order but before you try them (because they can be SO hard to get off of) I hear that counseling can work wonders.

I think your lists are a great start and if you stick to your plan that it will help you tremendously. Remember this quote, it may help...

"Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right." Henry Ford.

If you believe you can change your thoughts then you will.

Also remember, you've got friends who are only an email away.

Many hugs to you. And whatever I can do to help you on this journey, just let me know.

nicole said...

I'm glad you have set down some concrete things to do. But I also really think you need to consider therapy. I don't know you except for this space (and meeting you one time), and I'm clearly not a doctor, but my heart says to say something. Go talk to someone! And of course keep talking to us.

Wendy said...

I have been silently lurking your blog for a month or so now. I've wanted to comment however many times, only to be interrupted by my kids or called away for something or other by my husband and by the time I come back I've convinced myself that anything I might've said would've sounded hollow or phony or something like that. But I have to comment this time.

I wish I'd had to guts to write that. Every time I went for weeks without writing, every time I watched my friends chatting to each other on Twitter and burst into tears, wishing I could be that happy with myself, all the times I've never been able to believe that anyone could actually like me because I don't even like myself. All the things I felt and wished I could've said over the past however many years, you wrote.

I'm doing some better these days. Cutting out soda helped. Exercise, if I can ever manage to figure out how to squeeze that back into my days regularly, would help a whole lot more. Sometimes I think the biggest difference was just getting sick and tired of hearing myself crying the same thing over and over again. Whatever you do, the fact that you're doing something is a whole lot better than continuing on doing nothing. Fight the good fight, or fake it til you make it. Either way, someday, somehow, you'll look back on this and say, "Damn, I've come a long way."

Jennifer said...

We all have these times. You know I've written about sinking into depression and that horrible feeling of not being able to pull myself out. It is just a daily battle to look around at all of the "happy" people and feel so far away from that.

I think trying is a very good first step. I always have to just keep reaching and reaching and reaching and eventually I grab hold and slowly things start to get better. They will for you too. I believe in you and I'm going to keep telling you whether you want to hear it or not.

Foursons said...

One thing about this whole post stood out to me. Do not read other blogs and think that their lives are perfect and that they are better moms and oh so happy. People hit publish on what they WANT others to read. It does not necessarily represent the truth or show ALL of their reality. I leave out a LOT of stuff that I feel would be upsetting to someone I know in real life if they read it. We all censor and we all choose what we put on display- especially in our blogs.

Hang in there, you will leave this valley and the peak will be so much sweeter.

Frogs in my formula said...

Hugs to you. I'm sorry you're in a dark spot. I'm echoing what Foursons said: Do not read other blogs and think that their lives are perfect and that they are better moms and oh so happy.

Michelle said...

Hi, we don't know each other, but I have been following your blog for a while now. I am amazed at your writing because you are able to bravely say what so many of us don't have the guts to say. I was in your position last year. I have four children myself, and everything you have said in this blog I have felt. I would look at other moms and compare, and in my mind I always came up short no matter what compliments I received. Eventually, a dear friend told me the same thing happened to her after her fifth child, and when she had her hormones tested, she was horribly low. It caused the depression like symptoms. Consider getting your hormones tested first before you take any anti-depressants. It worked wonders for me. I think mine was caused by my tubal ligation. I didn't feel whole, or hormonally balanced. Am I perfect now? No, but I feel like the old me again. Also try supplementing with flax seed oil. It's great for mood :)

Paige said...

My counselor taught me an amazing trick and as nuts as it sounds- it WORKS. Your thoughts control your feelings, so when you feel bad or off or down, THINK something good. She says you do not have to actually believe that shit, but you do have to think it. And it WORKS. It is remarkable. Try it. think something good about yourself--do it enough, even when you do not believe it--and you will see the difference

Anna See said...

I will be standing with you as you initiate these changes. And girl, can I steal your list? I could use a kick in the pants about these things, too. LOVE and HUGS, Anna

Denise said...

Sending hugs and thoughts and prayers your way. I think you've got a GREAT start right here... hang in there and keep at it. I'll be back to follow your progress... cheering you along!

Amanda Padgett said...

((hugs)) Will be praying for you. I've struggled with periods of depression in the past and it is not fun, and such a hard hole to pull yourself up out of.

I do encourage you to use the journal, that has always helped me during my dark periods.

littlelegsmom said...

So beautifully expressed. Here's some good advice I once heard. We are all so very bad at receiving a compliment and really taking it in. When someone has a good thing to say to you reply, "Thank you, what else do you like about me?" It always gets a laugh. I know you will use this tip because I think you are sassy and funny!! You are an honest, gifted writer AND a caring human being. Best wishes on your journey..one that so many of us share and walk with you.

Doojies said...

Girlie, you need to see a good doctor-NOW. You seem, to me, to have a text book case of depression. Perhaps I shouldn't be writing this here. Delete if it's inappropriate, I wouldn't be offended, but please read it first. There is still a bit of a stigma about meds but they can also change your life. NOT MAKE YOU HIGH, allow you to feel normal. Unless a person has been through this, it is very hard to express. Your brain chemistry may be off. If you blood pressure was off you would probably see a doctor and receive treatment. This is the same. I blame some of it on our way-too-fast-overload society; humans aren't meant to have so much information to process constantly. You've had 5 children; that alone can change your chemistry. I truly didn't know what was going on with me until a friend called and told me of her experience. It didn't feel like I thought depression would feel; I was still functioning and taking care of my children well. Once I was on the other side of it I could look back and see how ill my brain had been. Sometimes it's just one course of treatment, sometimes a life-time. Either way, you should not have to endure the pain and lacking in your life when there are so many options out there. I'm sorry to go on and on here but I feel quite passionate about this; I hate to see people in pain and all the criticism about meds from others who have not had to deal with this. My thoughts and prayers are with you.