Monday, May 23, 2016

All You Need

Thanks for the thoughtful & truthful comments on the last post. I did take them to heart, and I discussed the situation with my primary doctor this morning, and she ended up recommending that I go back to therapy and take time out of my day to journal. Not the focus-on-the-bright-side gratitude journal I like to do before bed, but the get--the-hard-stuff-out therapy-substitute type (NOT to be done right before bed!) that she thinks will help me get the negative thoughts/feelings out of my brain/body and allow me to relax and sleep. I agreed to try it. She's a good doctor, with lots of professional and life experience, and mentioned specifically that she treats a lot of physicians with anxiety, and my case is not atypical for (her words) high-achieving women in the middle of career/parenting/marriage/family pressures. I trust her judgement completely. She also prescribed more Ambien, because damn if it doesn't work like a charm on those days that I need it.

After a rough week of work, last weekend was exactly what I needed, like a soothing balm to my tired and troubled soul. I feel relaxed and content today, even though I'm typing this from the kitchen table in between trying (and failing) to revise grant sections while a presumably "sick" B keeps asking for snacks and entertainment. It honestly could've been a terrible weekend. It rained nearly constantly. I was sick, and exhausted. I didn't work out at all (I haven't worked out for a full week). We spent a lot of time at home. And yet...I felt so completely surrounded by love, and laughter. It was restorative.  I'm recording it here for my memory.

It started Friday evening, with G and I enjoying some wine in the backyard while the kids jumped around eating popsicles. We got Thai take-out, and caught up on our weeks as well as some TV shows---it was our first time hanging out together the whole crazy week. Saturday morning G made blueberry pancakes for the boys. We got ready and met L's friend & parents at the children's museum. The parents were really cool, low-key, and we had good conversations. The boys ran around and had a blast and exhausted themselves. We came home and I helped the boys make rock sugar candy (well, ok, I did most of it). We have jars of supersaturated and brightly colored sugar solution with our sticks suspended in them, waiting for the candy to form. 

L wanted, as usual, to "play with me", so we sat for over an hour, going through the Highlights magazines we got as a gift and never seem to open. He got really into doing each activity. It was especially sweet, because I never see that focused and intent side of my energetic little guy. He leaned against me, excitedly pointing out the differences and the silly things. Then I went to the grocery store and walked home with 40 lbs on groceries on my shoulders, in the rain, and I LOVED IT. It was such a challenge and workout! Leftover yummy thai for dinner, and G and I watched a silly feel-good movie.

Sunday night I slept terribly and woke with an awful headache at 5:30 and couldn't get back to sleep until 7. G got up with the boys and I grabbed an extra hour of sleep. I had my coffee, took some pain meds, and took the dog on an extra long walk, letting the cool air & the medicine work its magic. When I got home the boys were excitedly working on a birthday card for me. They were SO SO proud of their creation (its a secret, though, not until my birthday!), that I can't wait to see it! Later I took the boys to the park while G did some chores, and then he took them to the market so I could rest. I got to lie in bed and read my book (Kate Morton's "the Lake House"...its so so good) while the sun came out and streamed into our room. Heavenly.

The boys were bursting with excitement when they got home, not just from the sugar high of the ice creams they ate, but because they picked out cheeses and crackers for me, "to make you happy!". They got their weekly "swimming pool bath" which they take together in our big jacuzzi tub (that usually is a dog-washing tub or a spot for our clothes-drying-rack, because I'm not a bath person). They had their screen time, while G and I enjoyed the cheeses and crackers with wine. Then they came up and discovered their hidden champagne tastes and suddenly they wanted no part of pasta and only wanted to polish off the expensive crackers and wedge of manchego  and cured meats for dinner. L apparently got a cheese high and had us uncontrollably laughing as he danced & pranced & made faces (he's definitely a clown, and he lives for our laughs).

We weren't in the mood for a real dinner after the cheese plate, but hungry after the boys went down (the less said about bedtime the better...its gotten out of hand), so I made us a pile of tater tots with cheese and a spicy sour cream sauce. PERFECT food for watching Game of Thrones (OMG that episode was intense! HOLD THE DOOR).

This morning B was coughing and sneezing and looked terrible so we decided to keep him home. It was easily figured out that G would stay home the first half, while I had my doctor appointment & some meetings at work, and then I would come home. I took L to school. We walked to the bus stop in the warm sunny morning. He laid his head on me as we rode, one thumb in mouth, the other hand holding mine, as we looked out the window to the beautiful blooming springtime city. I got a text from G saying B looked better, and from my friend planning a birthday lunch & shopping trip. I still have the headache, and sore throat, and exhaustion, but I haven't felt so perfectly at peace & connected in a long long time. A great start to birthday week.


  1. If you look up Cognitive Restructuring (one of the lessons for CBT), that might help with the journaling. I think the Mind over Mood book that Anon recommended in the last post has that, but if it doesn't then the Thoughts and Feelings Handbook must. Essentially the idea is that you fold a paper in half, on one side you talk about the stuff that's bothering you, and on the other side you talk about what is actually true (not Stuart Smalley version, realism version). Since when one has anxiety one tends to catastrophize. I'd be all, "I'm so stupid, I'm going to get kicked out of grad school" on one side. On the other, "My grad school doesn't kick anybody out. Even if I'm not the smartest person in my program, I'm still smart. If I do leave grad school I can get a degree in library science or something."

    Hope the sick goes away and you're left with peace and connectivity!

    1. I have mind over mood, and I don't remember that exercise in it, but I haven't read the whole thing cover to cover so I can check again. But yes, that is exactly the kind of thing my therapist did with me, and it really helped, even though it didn't seem like it at the time.

    2. It might be in the other book then. I got both books when I started CBT but don't have them on hand.

      For the longest time I had a copy of the cognitive restructuring sheet I did with my CBT therapist stuck on our refrigerator. :)

      I think it's really interesting how Crucial Conversations recommends what is essentially a version of cognitive restructuring for dealing with communication with their tell yourself a different story thing.

  2. I'm sorry I didn't comment on your last post. I was worried about you! So I'm glad you got some help. It's hard to know when it's time to reach out.

  3. Sounds like a lovely weekend! And glad you have such a good PCP with experience treating people in your life circumstances.

  4. I've not been reading your blog for long - I found you thanks to SHU :)

    I'm glad that you documented your weekend. It sounds just lovely! And I also imagine that it would be useful for you to come back to this post on occasion, as a reminder of how simple and sweet life can be.

  5. What a wonderful weekend, and a great way to start off your birthday week. I'm happy things are looking up. I hope the upward momentum holds!

  6. love, love, love this post and how happy you sound. sometimes the simplest weekends at home can be wonderful. <3

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