I have an official diagnosis in regards to my mental health. It has been found that I do have generalized anxiety, coupled with PTSD, and Bipolar 1 disorder. Now I can learn how to cope and be proactive with my mental health!
Sometimes I wish I was still as naive as I used to be when it comes to life and all the negative occurrences that come with it. I look back on those days and realize how beneficial it was for me as I wasn’t dealing with anxiety on the regular. Hell, I didn’t even know it was anxiety.
To some degree it’s normal to experience anxiety, I feel it’s just never very extreme for a lot of people. But for those like myself, it is beyond intrusive. It is ugly, it is mean, it is menacing, it is dark, it is extreme, and it is extremely ridiculous! It is also very controlling especially during times of change. I’ll explain why, I promise.
Now that Dan and I are on the same page, now that he has been more attentive to my needs as well as his own and our children’s (guys, he has done more over this Christmas break than I have and that is seriously something to be proud of! He’s never done that!), I’ve been able to focus on things like acceptance, goals, new ideas, new dreams, etc. Let’s break this down shall we?
First off, I feel I will be in this phase for quite some time, this phase of acceptance. I struggle to realize at times that I hold pretty high expectations for myself that I never achieve and then I wind up in failure mode and well, you guessed it, back to the victim card! But despite that cycle I do to myself, I crave stability like you wouldn’t believe, my mind just won’t let me get there. I have to trick my mind into finding acceptance until I can really learn to cope and deal and actually accept. I’m slowly getting better at it, though. I haven’t even been to therapy on the regular either, nor have we begun the journey of finding the right medications, but I feel that being self aware of my behaviors, and having an actual diagnosis so I can use my degree to my own advantage, I am more apt to stopping myself or shortening the length of time to my outbursts. Let’s take this evening for example:
I swore up and down that I brought my work notebook home and the new January menu so that I could sort out my tasks for each day. I don’t remember doing this already. I remember laying the notebook down by the stove with my little Christmas treat from one of my coworkers before we parted for break. I also remember setting it down initially on our shoe rack in the living room, vaguely, but then remembering I didn’t want my littles to mistake it for a “toy” so I picked it up and that’s how it wound up in the kitchen on the counter next to the stove. I also remember thinking to myself that it was in the way of my cleaning so I had to have put it somewhere but that is where I lose track of my memories. Where the heck did I put it? And then the anxiety kicks in. It tells me, “I have to find this now or I will forget and then come Thursday when school is back in session I will be lost and chaotically trying to figure my shit out,” or it says, “Crap! Dan made Ellie clean out the van and she probably doesn’t know any better (even though I know she does know better) and threw it away and now I have to dump the whole dumpster out and look utterly ridiculous to my neighbors just to find the damn bags she put all the van trash in,” which this leads to me frantically searching in every crook and cranny and any person who gets in the way is going to get a mouthful of words from me that explains why I don’t have time to deal with their shit because I have my own shit going on. And then it leads to, “God Darcy, if only you’d just do what you know you should and do it sooner rather than procrastinating, you wouldn’t be in this position, you wouldn’t seem so damn stupid.” And those thoughts either recycle throughout the whole process and it lasts for hours or the thoughts turn into everything about the past and how it’s proof I’m a failure and not good enough, I can’t teach my children correctly, I’m a loser, I have no real friends, no one really loves me, etc etc. I think you get the picture. But tonight, it was only for a short period of time that I behaved this way. I didn’t get into the drastic and more extreme thoughts. I fought myself all the way through to just cry, let it out, and then not wallow and unpack in that space. I had to yell that in my head, to myself, over and over again until I actually listened to myself. And I’ll be damned if it didn’t work. Before you know it, I was done searching, refocused myself and peered at the time. I was in that state of mind for a whole damn 20 minutes and then it was over and I was getting kids ready for bed. I usually live in this space for at least a day, if not longer. And I can’t say that it will happen like that all of the time, but at least this time I was successful, I had a WIN!!
I think you may have gathered by now that even just my anxiety gives me a whirlwind of emotions, now when you add things like PTSD and Bipolar on top of it? Well, it gets complicated to say the least. It makes me feel pretty extreme, at least in my mind. A lot of people tell me I’m not that extreme, but if it were up to me to have the final say, I’d say I’m pretty extreme at times.
Now, my diagnosis has been a hard thing to grasp. I’m more the compassionate person in general so when people tell me I lived through something awful and came out the other side, I tend to not believe them. I’m always the one to say, others have had it worse than I did. I only put up with it for about two years. Others have dealt with years of abuse. I have always downsized what I went through because it’s always almost shameful to have to tell people I allowed myself to get mixed up with someone like my ex. Truth is, it’s more common than people think. Social media has a lot to do with that too. We all feel we have to “look” a certain way to those browsing our page and following us. I do it even to an extent. I’ve always been more real, even though I’d often use it to my passive-aggressive advantage, but nonetheless, I put my feelers out there which wasn’t what most people did. Most people were fake as fuck. Only posting smiling pictures, kids behaving so well, as if their life was perfect. But it isn’t and I can assure you of that one! I have found that most people won’t understand your accomplishments (no matter how big or small) when you post them. They don’t understand the hard work it took to get where you are in your journey. They don’t understand how much you were fighting your inner being to just get out of bed, put on real clothes, and just go to the store for one little selfie. I truly hate my acne scarred face so I hardly ever post make-up free selfies any more, either. So see? I still do it to an extent. Regardless, I’ve added this blog to my Darcy’s Doodles facebook page so that I can get my story out there beyond the world of just WordPress. I want my friends to understand that it’s ok to not be ok. I want them to know that if they feel alone, they aren’t. I want them to know that I can be an imperfectly perfect person, mental health issues and all, with four kids and a husband and a job and these side gigs and all the crafts I love and still manage to be 100% real and functional. My diagnosis doesn’t define me. It’s only a part of my story where I’ve fought really hard to even just function most days and find one, small, tiny thing I love about myself. And believe me, that’s hard. It’s hard to accept a compliment from myself.
It’s hard because when the depressive part happens, it’s the part that has always been with me and has never gone away. When I was a kid, I was always depressed. I tried St. John’s Wart only to find I was allergic to it. I went to therapy for a while until I and my whole family felt I was ok and could function more appropriately and cope with things. I was fine until my ex, and having a baby. Then I had more children and post pardum depression really set it and kind of never left. Being without antidepressants lately has been a real struggle not to indulge in my negative thoughts about how my life has turned out, to not be angry at people (like my husband) and blame him for having put me in this position. I have a very hard time waking up in the morning without being on antidepressants. Seriously, it’s a real, true struggle. It’s a struggle not to want to take a nap, it’s a struggle to not think so negatively about every single part of my day, week, month, year, years… I’m sure you understand. I have been battling myself left and right. I am trying to not put so much on my husband’s shoulder because I don’t want him to lose sight of his own fight to then sulk in his own darkness. I want our life to be more positive. I crave it like a fat kid loves candy (if I offended you with that statement, sorry, not sorry). There’s a lot that we have to correct with our kids too which is a struggle all on it’s own. We didn’t teach them good communication skills and we are reaping the repercussions of that, and yet we are trying to help them cope with our misguided lessons.
So, here is where acceptance is hard. In my brain, I have to accept who I was. I have, to an extent. But now? Now I have to accept that with change and new goals in mind with my Darcy’s Doodles brand comes a whole slew of other problems or issues that are going to arise. But I want, no, I crave for my own label to get out there. I crave to be bigger than I ever imagined, but that also means that I have to accept reality. I have small children who require a lot of guidance. I will not always have time to do more with my Darcy’s Doodles right now. It will have to wait. Most of what I need for my brand is more time, but right now, I see my kids and I see what Dan and I did to them and it is therefore my own responsibility to correct my mistakes which is what I need to focus more on. Besides, they are only little for so long so I’m going to absorb that or it might turn into another issue that I’ll have to go to therapy for. But with time, I know that I will achieve what I initially wanted for it, I just need to use even more of my patience.
And I am not even sure this is what I want exactly for my entire life. I certainly don’t envision reaching anything that would require me to rent a space so I could do mass orders. Truthfully, I just want to be successful during holiday seasons, and craft fairs. That’s what I really want. I’m not a “larger than life” kind of person, but I am the kind of person who appreciates success in whatever facet that may entail. Take my job for example. I’m just a lunch lady. But I am most certainly successful with it and it’s really not as easy as every one thinks. Our program offers more than a few options and as we, parents, all know, when you give your child more than one option we are often waiting much longer for them to make a decision than having to deal with a tantrum because they weren’t given a choice. I, more specifically, make our deli option (c entree), bake all the breads, and make all the desserts. There’s more to it than you’d think too. There are menu boards to write on, paperwork that needs to be done, cleaning that needs to happen purely for the maintenance of the structures we use since our company does not own them, and the dishes? Oh my God, you would never imagine the amount of dishes that we have to do. We don’t just cook for one school in our area either. We cook for PK-middle school, high school, St. Luke’s Catholic school, and St. Paul’s Lutheran school. We have to pack all of that as well and to do it all within a few hours, well, it’s really a rush to say the least depending on the steps it takes to get all the ingredients together in the first place. And to put the kitchen into perspective, from one end to the other, I would literally say it’s an eighth of a mile, not exaggerating. Can you imagine running all around that place? Maybe now you’ll know why I have a FitBit! My steps are pretty outrageous for just being a lunch lady.
Back to my main point. Change equals chaos because there are things we have to experience that help us succeed, but also to fail so we know what not to do next time. I’m in that change phase because I’ve cycled through so many emotions because making decisions is really hard for me considering my anxiety (insert laughing cry emoji face). But there hasn’t been enough time to unpack and live in those emotions because I’ve got to stay focused. I’ve got to learn to deal with certain failures and then move on to another solution in order to find the right outcome, the thing I’ve always wanted. And I really don’t know what I want. I do want my brand to grow a little bit. But my life long dreams I no longer aspire because of the circumstances that happened around them. The consequences (whether my own or not) have prevented me from achieving what I initially wanted for myself. I know what you’re thinking, nothing’s impossible. And you’re right, to an extent. Yes, I could, I could obtain those goals that I previously set for myself. But that would require another large financial sacrifice that I’m just not willing to make for the sake of my own mental stability. My husband’s financial mistakes were enough that we were paying collections on doctor bills (still are, but much less now and thankfully have not added anymore of those said collections for a long time), our credit card debt is thankfully smaller yet still considerably large when they still outnumber your regular run-of-the-mill bills, and personal loans are just about diminished. We still pay a fairly high amount of debt and my student loan has suffered because of that. It makes me feel guiltier than it should. But understanding and knowing that because my loans are still tied up and sometimes in deferment, I know that it puts less money in a kid who just graduated high school’s pocket. I know I’m only one person and it takes a whole lot to affect that portion of financial responsibility, but that doesn’t make someone like me feel any less guilty. So, if you think that I’m just going to add to that debt to either finish my first goal for life or to start a new dream, well, it would cause more agony in my brain than it would do any good for any one, so there’s that.
I’m more in that space where I have to accept what is and realize new dreams, while they may be small ones, that are more obtainable in the circumstances I created for myself. I have four children. It is no feat getting them all up in the morning and getting them all in bed at night. One child has a sleep delay and I can’t even tell you how draining that is especially with a newborn (most likely I’ll have a blog post just for the dilemma all in itself). And they are all girls… enough said. And to manage that with an outside job, this blog, my crafts, and the house stuff, it is often extremely overwhelming and hard to manage without my OCD. Yes, this is the only time I’ll be thankful for being a bit of a micromanager. I have my days pretty set from dawn till dusk because I know what works for my family. It doesn’t help, though, when change happens and adjustments need to be made for the day. That’s the whirlwind I’m talking about. My anxiety throws me through a loop when it comes to having a hiccup in the daily routine. I don’t have people to depend on. With the most recent fight my mother-in-law and I had over the boundaries of our children and her life choices, well, you can imagine she fought that with every inch in her even though they are our children with whom we felt needed some healthy boundaries in regards to her choices. That leaves us with no one except our day care provider and let’s get real here. My older children don’t attend her day care so when something more serious happens with Dan and/or myself, we ask her, but reluctantly. She has children of her own. She is also not a convenience. We do have friends, but again, four children is a lot to care for when you have your own children. But otherwise, people have lives. They aren’t there for our convenience and I probably over do it when it comes to that statement mostly because I’ve had people treat us that way. I don’t like others to feel as though they are being taken advantage of. That is certainly not ok with me. So, needless to say, we don’t have a village like a lot of other people do. And it gets hard when you have only yourself to rely on for most things which means having a babysitter is very few and far between. My oldest can babysit, don’t get me wrong, but we also want her to have a childhood and not be a built in babysitter, and we also feel she’s just not quite ready for a more full time task in doing so.
During this time of “change,” I’m am even more awkward than I have ever been before. When I don’t know what to do, I’m either erratic, or I’m like a deer in headlights. I’m either overly emotional or I’m not emotional what so ever and could care less. I’m slowly finding a balance and while that’s hard because most of me wants control, I have realized I will not achieve that without going through this whirlwind phase. I’m out of my comfort zone trying to find a new one. Soon enough, success will be there and I’ll probably do it all over again not because nothing is good enough, but because I believe in myself. I am a fighter. I do not give up so easily. I will try and try and try because I simply want to experience new things and fight those inner struggles, fight myself to get out of my own way.