It had gotten to a point where I would find myself standing in the kitchen staring at nothing; or I would get angry for no reason; and then sometimes, a random thought would cross my mind reminding me of all of my perceived failures over the past four and a half years. I needed some help but my own personal pride prevented me from seeking such attention.
Moms can be these exotic robots that handle all schedules, delays, updates and changes in a smooth and orderly fashion. At this particular season in my life, I was managing the kids’ needs, being a single mom, work responsibilities, and the demands of school and other external commitments; I’d lost my very tight and very regimented method of survival to a more chaotic out of control (but thinking I’m in control) method of getting things done. I prided myself in my ability to schedule everything in without anyone missing out on the things that they wanted to do. But things began to fall by the wayside. It felt like every bit of me was being pulled apart at the seams and I was barreling quickly toward a very detrimental end.
I’m your typical perfectionist, overachiever. I love to get out there and see what happens. I have the expectation that things will go great because I know I’ll give 100% of myself to whatever it is I pursue. Most often I'm correct. I succeed and achieve beyond my wildest dreams but at this time in my life, there had been many things that had not turned out the way I’d intended. These failures were the culmination of things being out of my control and my own personal growth; but dealing with these failures was more difficult for me to overcome. I felt was as though life were playing a cruel joke on me, and everything I touched turned to rust. At a certain point I began to wonder if I would ever do anything awesome ever again.
Our lives are these whirlwinds of expectation, accomplishments, failures and insecurity. We deal with our defeats and disappointment on a varied scale. Fortunately at the time, my ex-husband (now husband) came to the rescue. He let me know that I was not myself. I was not someone who I knew and was proud of. He was honest with me about the decisions I was making and that many of my decisions were not inline with my goals. In essence, I was going in circles because I said yes to everything else and no to myself. He reminded me that there was healthcare available and I should go talk to someone.
I was terrified. In my mind, talking to someone meant that I would be stigmatized as an insane person for the rest of my days. Or someday my file could be pulled out and I would be embarrassed by the information on my medical record. But finally I affirmed that if this were the case, it’s worse to succumb to my stress and self imposed mental punishment than to not go “sit on a sofa”. I went and I downloaded all of my worries, fears and frustrations. I analyzed my choices with a licensed professional. I felt better. It wasn't because I needed to be psychoanalyzed or I needed diagnosis, I just needed the opportunity to talk to someone who was not judging my ideas or opinions in a fashion that friends and family might. I was under a severe amount of pressure and stress from school and work. I was overwhelmed by a self-imposed, unrealistic idea of who I should be, that I was consumed by my thoughts of inadequacy in that moment. It was liberating for me to admit that out loud to someone who didn’t really know me, my past accomplishments, or future potential.
I had the epiphany that all moms need an opportunity like this because the nature of our “job” as mom can be totally overwhelming. Solving everyone else's problems or dealing with everyone else's issues, schedules, needs, desires, dreams, hopes and wants is so consuming that we can forget about our own and that’s frustrating. Or we try to balance our own with everyone else’s and that's an unfair place to live mentally and emotionally. Stress and even depression aren’t seen as intensely severe as schizophrenia but they slowly chip away at our sanity and confidence which can be debilitating and destructive.
I am a mental health advocate. If you’re experiencing even the slightest amount of fear, stress, or self doubt, sometimes it’s best to talk with someone other than a close friend. Talking with friends is therapeutic, but friends don’t have all the answers sometimes. And if you’re always emotionally dumping on your friends, are you really being a good friend to them?
Your children are always observing and learning how to appropriately handle life and difficulty through your life’s modeling. They hear the way we talk to ourselves and see the way we deal with failure and disappointment. No amount of speeches or activities to build their confidence can negate what they see every day in their parents. It’s okay to acknowledge that you are overcome by your circumstances. It’s ok to seek help when you are stressed out and overwhelmed because to ignore these symptoms creates a gateway to destructive behavior that not only affects you but your family as well.
I'm a former teacher and former college athlete, currently working to make life more equitable for all people. My mission is to get parents to partner with their child's teacher.