It’s likely if you’ve seen me recently, I’ve told you I’m fine. I say that a lot, and a lot of the time it’s true. But sometimes it’s not. I think because it is a relatively new thing for me to talk in public about my OCD and anxiety, it’s sometimes difficult for me to admit if I’m not a-OK. And this week has been difficult. Not impossible, not terrible, just difficult. I’ve been getting a little bit worse on the ol’ OCD spectrum this week:- washing my hands more, questioning a lot more, snapping a lot more…
The Husband told me straight, he thinks I’m getting worse and how are we going to deal with that. Usually it’s me who calls it when I’m starting to feel a bit worse, so it stung a bit more to have him say it out loud first. Because I know I’ve been struggling a bit more recently, but I thought I was on top of it. Turns out I’m not.
I do feel quite sensitive about it, because in a lot of ways I’m doing really well. I feel like I’m a good mum, and I’m doing my best by The Munchkin. The Husband agrees, and was very clear in saying on that score I am winning. He reassured me I am doing awesome in that respect, which helps me not to feel like I’m failing badly. But in other areas, it’s not so good.
I’m taking exercise and trying to eat a bit better – tick, tick. I’m still questioning behaviours and trying to rationalise things – tick, tick. But I’ve been really struggling with tiredness, and I know from experience that this impacts on my anxiety and OCD. And because of tiredness and having a lot on my plate in general, I’ve been lax at remembering to take my medication regularly recently. Major fail. And it has started to show in my thought patterns and behaviours I use to control them. For instance, if you look at my hands at the moment, you’ll see sore patches forming because I’m washing them too much. This is because I’m still really struggling with food prep and the thought of killing my family by feeding them. And if you check me trying to leave the house, you’ll see my stress levels rocket as I try to stay in control of obsessional thoughts about the tumble dryer, cooker, plugs and windows. Not to mention locking the front door – my neighbours, and any local dog walkers, undoubtedly think I’m bonkers. I am, again, struggling with all the ways I could hurt the people I love, for instance by leaving the hair dryer plugged in.
So it’s time to take stock and get in top of things again. The good thing is I am feeling happy and positive in myself most of the time, so there are no issues where my mood is concerned. And I’m happy that I’m doing well in the mum stakes just now so that takes some of the pressure off, particularly as my obsessional thoughts often try to convince me this isn’t the case. I am trying to remind myself of the truth of the matter, and not make myself feel bad about my abilities as a mum.
I’ve already made a concerted effort to remember my medication over the last week, but this will take a few weeks to balance out. I’ll continue to persevere here, because I know that the medication helps me and I’d rather take it and feel better than struggle on without. It’s funny, because medication for me is a bit of an invisible helping hand. If I take it, I don’t feel like it’s doing much, but if I don’t then I notice that things seem that bit harder. When I was having CBT sessions with a community mental health nurse, we discussed the use of medication, and they mentioned that for some people they simply have a lower stress and anxiety threshold that is dictated by biological factors, which the medication really helps. I agree, as for me this definitely seems to be the case, and is something which is made worse by external elements such as tiredness.
And tiredness is going to be the more difficult aspect to tackle. The Munchkin is currently teething, and teething bad. For the last month or more (I lose track), we have been waking constantly throughout the night for comfort and to feed. Some nights are better than others, but the cumulative effect is one of increasing tiredness. The Munchkin is still in our room at nine months, and we are still doing the co-sleeping thing. I’m not ready to stop that, and I don’t think he is either. The Husband could probably live without it, but is supportive of me continuing with it at the moment. I’m aware it’s likely The Munchkin will sleep better in his own room, but with him waking frequently for comfort and feeds, it just seems sensible all round to keep going as we are. So I will just need to see how this one plays out. I guess one way I can tackle it is to go to bed earlier, something which I always find so difficult as the evening is a bit of ‘me time’. But I will try. Perhaps re-evaluating ‘me time’ is the key. Pre-baby, I saw running as infringing on time for myself, whereas I now look at it as a time for me to gather my thoughts and take some time for myself. Maybe I could try this way of thinking on early bedtimes. It’s worth a try.
I’ve been enjoying my running training, and I’m glad I’ve got it to focus on. The London Marathon goal is encouraging me to get out there when I would otherwise probably not bother, so that can only be a good thing. I’ve started going to Park Run on a Saturday morning, and surprisingly I love it! I say surprisingly not because Park Run isn’t excellent, because it is, but rather because I would have thought myself the last person on the planet who would regularly do a 5k for fun. Oh the times, they are a-changing. I’m shortly planning to try to combine my training with motherhood by venturing out with a running buggy – more on this to follow when I eventually manage it (no laughing at the back!).
Another thing I’ve been enjoying is reading again (sometimes about running), and am trying to do this before bed each night. So maybe that’s something to do a bit more of to unwind. I was worried I was going to find it difficult to ever read again after having a baby, so it has been comforting to come back to this and actually finish a book or two – you would understand how much of an achievement this is if you knew how slow a reader I am.
I’ve also been getting excited about the coming of Autumn and all the associated cosiness. I love this time of year, and I’m embracing all the things which signal good times are coming – the start of regular good TV, the colours of the leaves, cosy blankets, hot chocolate, crisp walks on fresh days, seasonal aisles in shops, a reignited interest in baking and cooking, the anticipation of the festive season…the list goes on. I found out last year that the Danish actually have a word for the warm and cosy feeling these things instil in me – hygge. Just another reason to love the Danish if you ask me. I plan to investigate more about this in the coming months and will let you know how I get on.
I guess the important conclusion I’ve come to, is it’s time to instigate a bit of self-care. It’s time to do the little things which make the days easier for me, make time for the things I enjoy, and keep going with the things I know help. Do any of you have things which you rely on when the going gets a bit tough? Am I the only person who feels that spark of hygge at the thought of all things autumnal and wintry? Let me know what gets you through when you need that extra bit of help.
EDIT:- I wrote the above on Saturday night when my other half was on a night out. I felt quite positive when I went to bed. I woke up at around 5am and The Husband was not in bed. When he came upstairs he was not looking good. He was worried he might have eaten something dodgy. CUE THE KLAXON in my head. I was immediately on edge, worried about using the bathroom, worried about him touching The Munchkin, who, incidentally, had kept me up a lot of the night with teething woes. I was exhausted and had been relying on The Husband taking The Munchkin for a couple of hours in the morning so I could get some sleep. Now this wasn’t going to happen I was starting to panic.
Clearly I am not doing nearly as well as I thought. If I was, I wouldn’t be considering quarantining The Husband by moving out whilst he’s unwell. I also wouldn’t be cracking up at the thought of no lie in. As it is, in the cold light of day, we are in a slightly better position than I imagined. The Husband has only had the one episode and, whilst he isn’t feeling awesome, he will be able to get up and help out – by cleaning the bathroom. I’m obviously the most awful wife in the world, but in my current state I can’t face it. Also, having given The Munchkin some Anbesol and Calpol, he is more chilled and happily playing whilst I type. And I have a cup of non-decaf tea (a highly irregular occurrence) and some Chocolate Orange Minis, so I feel I can cope a bit better than expected.
I felt I should update last night’s post because I was surprised and anxious about my reaction to the night’s events, even though I’d just written at length about how I am having a more tricky time at the moment. I’m not doing as well as I could be. But I want to be coping better so I guess that’s a good starting point. I think sometimes the trick is to take a moment to breathe and do whatever it is you need to do to feel OK. So tea and chocolate it is. The rest will come.
EDIT:- I’ve only gone and linked up with the fabulous Honest Mum again for another Brilliant Blog Posts! Go and check it out 🙂