Monday, January 13, 2014

Blue Monday Dispatch

Blue Monday, the second Monday in January, is supposed to be the most depressing day of the year. I learned this from Facebook and Mental Health Foundation who offered great tips for coping. 

Depression and Chronic Pain inevitably go together. The pain wears you down, "why me" niggles at the back of your mind, and if you have to give up plans or activities it is a real loss. I have been living with depression as my little black dog for over a decade and struggled with it as an adolescent. 

Living with Chronic Pain I have acquired new mental illnesses and repeatedly had the conversation with psychiatrists that my mood is more a reflection of the weariness of waking up in pain day after day or from having to accept that the plans I had for my life and career are not possible given my physical limitations. 

Consindering everything, I think I'm a positive ray of sunshine. 

This past week found me experiencing a bad muscle spasm and pinched nerve. Fortunately, I have an accupuncturist who makes home visits and I respond well to alternative therapy. I also have a small pharmacy of Western medicine and an appointment with my neurologist as back up. It's still a struggle. 

So, after a previous week of pain and a few days on the couch, Blue Monday dawned as the beginning of a New Year; It was a rough day for me and involved more self reflection than I wanted to deal with on a cold day. 

We started the day with a fresh semester of music and art class. Memes and I started going to a wonderful music and art program run by two amazing moms when she was six months old. Since we have known them both women have given birth while they continued to design and develope this brilliant little program. 

Now we have moved up to the toddler class from the infant group and I noticed that the group has changed from a majority of parents to over half of the adults being hired caregivers as the parents were both working. The conversation around the art table was about which classes the toddlers were enrolled in, a nanny told me they have a different class everyday. I felt terrible. In my mind I am a stay at home full time mother devoting all the energy I have to being the best caretaker possible. 

Over the holidays I have been playing up the ideal 1950's homemaker motif because it matches my kitchen and makes everyone happy. I am trying to be the ultimate mom. I've been baking and cooking and almost keeping the house clean. I've bough new organizing baskets and this may be the year that everything has a place...

Anyway, these nannies made me feel like I am falling behind in classes for the baby. Then I came home and started worrying about whether my older daughter was engaged in enough meaningful extracurricular activities. 

My blues quickly turn into anxiety.

In the hazy memory of the days before my body rebelled I remember the woman who charged headlong into all kinds of intriguing situations and was often criticized for being overconfident. Now I find that I have developed many flavors of anxiety to accompany my illness. 

One form it has recently taken is Social Anxiety. To begin with I'm never sure what to wear: what is appropriate for my age and what I'm doing, or what reflects who I am at this stage in life. After that I get very defensive about my choice to be a full time SAHM. I know that it is a luxury. For me it is not really a choice. 

To top the day off, we attended a retirement party for a colleague of my husband. He is an Assistant United States Attorney for the Department of Justice. The retirement party was for a wonderful man who had worked in the office next to him and been a good friend since we moved here. I wanted to see him and wish him well. 

The idea of being in a room of working attorneys and having to make small talk terrified me. I am deeply insecure about my decision to be a full time stay at home mother and would love to be working part time once Memes is old enough for school. Hopefully, I will at least be able to write! 

In my cocktail chatter I found an alternate cause for Blue Monday: the lawyers who worked for firms all had to start the years billable hours at zero. It's a daunting thought.

I'm not sure what my master plan for this year will be. My efforts to be a fabulous and inspired Mom will continue. I will use my degrees to be the most amazing Mom in the neighborhood, on days that I can move around. I'm trying to make SuperMom a career choice but I'm not very good at it. 

I'm writing this on Gray Tuesday. On my phone. Hopefully I will get some more posts up soon, my draft folder is embarrassing!

Happy New Year, the darkest day is over! 

Cheers,
ALJ 


3 comments:

  1. For most parents, the decision to be a stay at home parent or a working parent are hardly choices. It's more like being stuck between a rock and a hard place! When the itty bitty shitty committee starts going off in your head, ask yourself if going back to work full time right now would be worth trading for the beautiful memories and the bond you are creating with your daughter. Never mind trying to work with a chronic pain condition!

    I do not possess a degree in law, or any degree. My options for work are limited to retail or food service. Living with migraines that are often caused by chemical sensitivity, even going to the store can be a crap shoot-- will I have an episode because the cashier just used cleaning products on the counter? Is the soap they're using in the kitchen going to cause a flare? I start going with all these "what-ifs" and wonder how I'd even manage to hold down a job with my condition.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the comment and and the new favorite name for my negative thoughts!

      I truly am enjoying every good moment I have with my toddler and am grateful I was able to have a second baby.

      As to living with migraines I do understand.

      Sometimes the way we have to adapt to create a healthy environment for ourselves is difficult or absurd. I'm always chagrined at the amount of damage to my body some casual action with trigger.

      If you have any clever tricks to avoid migraines but still run around and be a "SuperMom" please share them, I am always excited to have a guest blogger!

      Cheers,
      ALJ

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  2. It isn't really a choice for me to be a stay at home mom. My advice is to just keep on being an awesome mom. The little one is probably going to have more fun building blocks with Mommy than dealing with a bunch of cranky toddlers at a play group, anyway!

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