Keeping the Crazy Under Control

So the last year or so I’ve been on a quest to get my anxiety disorder under control. After Buddy was born, I started taking antidepressants because of the crushing depression brought on by the fact that I had a new baby and I’d never be happy again, just like all new mothers feel.

(No? Just me? All right then.)

They  worked fantastically, but by last year I had pretty much plateaued and was reaching a point where I was expecting the pills to do all the work and how dare I still be upset sometimes, Prozac. HOW DARE YOU.

And that’s just not reasonable. I know that. I’m not trying to go off of them at all. Trust me. If I could figure out a way to make a lorazepam milkshake, I totes would. But they’re just pills. I needed to get myself to a place where I could still be okay with moderate stress and not just lose it when, like, my kids were acting like kids.

(And oh! I have a daughter that feeds off of my anxiety and that gives HER anxiety and then she behaves worse and then I get madder and…shit, it’s just a bad cycle.)

But ugh, that required doing things. AND I HATE DOING THINGS. I like sitting at home with a glass of wine and a good book and blogging kind of. Not much more than that. Maybe opining on Vatican II or the Jews.

But none of that was helping me to cut down on the number of bad days. (Not even Vatican II. I KNOW.) So I had to figure other stuff out.

I went to a lot of therapy, a psychologist, and obstetric psychiatrist (not pregnant, just wanted to find out how many drugs I could take before any hypothetical child developed flippers), and started practicing mindfulness almost daily.

I even considered cutting out coffee. Ha. Hahhaha. Nope. I know, I know, that’s probably like the best thing I could. But it literally gives my life meaning and I don’t drink that much of it so please don’t even bother telling me about how amazing you feel now after giving it up.

The best thing I’ve done though, and the thing that has had the biggest impact has been changing my morning routine.

I’ve always been a morning person, so that’s a huge part of it. But I never really consciously set up a morning routine that actually benefited me.

(Well, here I joked about setting up one.)

Buzz leaves at approximately crack thirty in the morning, so I’ve started forcing myself to get up with him. I always mean to, but over the last year more and more mornings I’d just give him a kiss, assure myself he wasn’t mad at me, and figure I’d see him in the evening.

Which is fine, but honestly, for me? Spending just that extra forty-five minutes or so with my husband in the morning makes a huge difference. Sometimes I think when you’re at this stage in life, when at least one of you is working long hours, and one of you is taking care of little kids all freaking day and then when your husband gets home and night you eat and bathe the kids and shove them into bed and finally flop down on the couch with the laundry to fold and think geez, it’s a good thing we both like Frasier reruns because what the hell else would we talk about- the most exciting thing that happened to me today was when I found a coupon on the ground beef at Target.

But when I see him in the morning, it’s like we’re living the same life. Yes, we’re separated during the day doing different jobs, but we are definitely still living the same life.

After Buzz leaves, I pour myself a cup of coffee (again, not giving it up, don’t even try) and sit in the living room. I love my living room. It’s my happy place. Even two and a half years after moving in, I still can’t believe I get to live here and I definitely feel that most in the living room. Probably because it’s the room that gets least destroyed by kids.

(Still destroyed. Just a little less.)

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I saw a rosary by myself. Sometimes we’ll do another one later as a family or for school or something, but there is seriously something amazing about starting your day with the rosary. I feel like I’m a better mother and I can handle things better and it’s just a much better day when I do that.

Prayer, you guys! It works!

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I stole my son’s rosary because it was blessed at the Vatican and that’s super cool. He’s three. He doesn’t use it yet.

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After the rosary, I do my spiritual reading. I realized this summer that I’m the kind of person who really needs direction. And I’m the kind of person who really needs like a daily thing to read that centers me and makes me consider being a better person. I have yet to find a daily devotional book I love, so this year (and probably next because I keep missing days) I’m following the Coming Home Network’s plan for reading the Bible and the Catechism in a year.

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It’s organized almost like a daily Mass- you read some Old Testament, a Psalm, and New Testament reading ever day, as well as a selection from the Catechism. It takes about twenty minutes total, and it’s just awesome. I have a nice Catholic study Bible, but any  would do. This is a Catholic program, so if you’re going to follow it then make sure you have a Bible with all the Catholic books as well. Catechisms are super cheap as well and a lovely thing to have around.

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We have multiple Catechisms on various shelves and stuff. (What happens when church geeks marry other church geeks.) I grabbed the one I saw first, and it happened to be my Grandpa’s.

So yeah if you can find a book inscribed by a dead beloved relative that’d be awesome too. Really enhances the experience.

I finish up by spending ten minutes reading from one of the “good for me” books I have accumulated and then ignored because there’s always a mystery that’s more exciting to me. I know, it’s bad. But this way I get to read my stupid novels and also keep up with some good heartwarming parenting/spiritual/ADHD advice.

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Currently I’m reading Hallowed Be This House by Thomas Howard for my prayer group, and The Heart of Motherhood: Finding Holiness in the Catholic Home by Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle for my everyday reading. I’m not loving the Howard so much, but it is making me be more deliberate about how I view my home- it is a sacred place where the miracles of life take place, and not just  a random collection of rooms I have to wander constantly picking up socks like Sisyphus with little kids.

I’m loving the O’Boyle, but honestly, it’s not really about whether I love a particular book or not. It’s more that I get to be a grown up for ten minutes and focus on bettering myself.

By this point it’s like 7 am, and at least one kid is up and it’s time to start the day for reals. Sometimes Eva will come downstairs and sit with me and play on her tablet while I’m finishing up my reading. I love that she sees me taking care of my spiritual development and my sanity. And cuddling with her is pretty awesome.

So I don’t succeed at this every morning. A lot of mornings I just stay in bed and roll over and whine, “You won’t hate me if I sleep will you?” to my husband as he dutifully tries to pry me out of bed like I specifically asked him to the night before. And he smiles and kisses me and says no because he’s a nice guy and if he’s nice to me he knows I won’t get mad at him for NOT getting me up like I told him to later when I actually do join the realms of the living.

Marriage. It’s a beautiful complicated thing. Mostly complicated.

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