Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Easily Overwhelmed

I know I lost brain cells during my recent pregnancy. I know I'm sleep deprived. I know that I don't think clearly when I'm tired. But I am SO not used to getting this overwhelmed with normal "me" type tasks. I can't seem to do anything lately without wanting to run and hide from the pressure I feel.
This afternoon, a friend called and I spewed all of my frustrations onto her. As soon as I said, "I just don't feel like myself," she suggested I call my doctor. She's been battling post-partum depression for the last few months and although I don't know that I'm necessarily depressed, there very possibly could be something hormonal going on. Thankfully, my 6 week check up is on Thursday so we'll see what he has to say.
I first noticed it on Black Friday. I had a list of places I wanted to go to get some good Christmas deals. But thinking through my strategy of where to go first and how to avoid crowds overwhelmed me so badly that I shut down completely and didn't leave the house. In fact, the thought of buying Christmas gifts seems like such a daunting task that I haven't made a single purchase. Planning, shopping, getting quality gifts that people will appreciate and buying within our budget while getting good deals...I'm shutting down even thinking about it.
When I was decorating our house for Christmas, I felt this same feeling. I didn't know where to start...there were so many boxes of "stuff" to add to an already decorated home. I ended up clearing off my bookshelves and just diving in. After all of that anxiety, 100% of our decor was displayed in under an hour. (minus the tree and outside, of course) I remember feeling so silly for getting all worked up in my head.
The same goes for couponing and meal planning. And even cooking at all. This is the first week I've gone to the grocery store with my list and my coupons, all clipped and organized. It has been such a blessing having friends bring us dinners through Food Tidings, but that has come to an end. I need to start shopping again, planning, preparing, (*groan*)...and even though it's only one extra meal each day, the thought of it seems like a mountain.
Then there's the impossible task of losing the baby weight - where do I begin? Especially since I've gained another 3 pounds since Thanksgiving. I'm supposed to be either holding steady or going down, not gaining! But I'm constantly hungry and have no will power or energy to make healthy snacks. Now that I can exercise, it's freezing outside. And I can't take Jason to the gym daycare until he's 3 months old, so I just end up doing nothing. I need to get it under control pronto so I can get my body back sometime in 2010. Or 2011. But by then, I might be pregnant again, so what's the point, right? SEE?!?! There I go again! This "why bother" attitude is really not me.
Even my mental escape - the computer - has me overwhelmed. My inbox has gotten out of control in the last few days. Emails that need to be read. Or responded to. Or filed for later. Or printed for reference. I usually have a "Just Do It" mentality with email - stop thinking about it, don't write it on the to-do list, just respond, file or delete the first time you read it. But I'm not following my own advice.
Why am I suddenly so easily overwhelmed? I hoped it would go away as quickly as it arrived, but these last couple of weeks it's actually been getting worse. Maybe I need to go back and read my own blog archives to help ease myself down from the ledge. I can't stay on task, even when I do try and tackle one item on my to-do list. At least I'm starting things, but I have trouble finishing them. Maybe I should sub-title this post, "Easily Distracted."
So for all of you who think I am a robot, I am not. I'm human. I get overwhelmed and procrastinate just like everyone else. And right now, it's driving me insane. I crave a sense of accomplishment and they're few and far between lately.
I need to write a list. Right now, after I hit, "publish" on this post. Of everything I need to do, big and small. From refilling the downstairs diaper basket to putting batteries in the snowman toy to calling the insurance company. And in the morning, I'm going to get the kids up, dressed, fed and settled and I'm going to set a timer for 30 minutes to see how much I can get done.
Whew! I feel a little better already.
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DutchMac said...

Hey you, you're overwhelmed because you have a million and one things in your head and only room to hold half a million things in there. You wrote a while back that you didn't think Mike understood your body is still recovering from having a newborn and that he seemed to expect you to be back to your perfect self instantly ..... ummmm, I love you, but Pot Kettle Black on that one! You are doing the same thing to yourself!

Forgive yourself for not yet BEING yourself, and remember the whole nine-months-up-nine-months-down thing. It's not just about weight, it's about brain cells as well. Give yourself a break and stop EXPECTING so much of yourself. I bet when you drop the expectations, that alone will free you up to have more of yourself back. The rest will come when it's ready.

It's not the end of the world...it's only been six weeks! You will not be in this funk forever, it does not own you, you are not doomed to this for all eternity. Breathe, let it flow, and let it go. You don't need to add 'Fix myself entirely' to your To Do list.


Julie said...

Everything she said, (dutchmac), ditto. I felt all these things in December 2007, when Jenna was 6 weeks. Adjusting to life with 3 is....well an adjustment in more ways than one. Keep reminding yourself of that. Right now your sense of accomplishment will come at merely making it through each day with happy, clean and fed kids. I know....may not sound good enough but focusing on that will help and the momentum will build , I promise. I'm thinking your why bother attitude is coming from sheer exhaustion. And if you weren't exhausted after daily marathons while you are still hormonally balancing....I would wonder what you were smoking!

Let me have Jason and Kaylin for a couple of hours in the next couple of days. You can hike with Ryan. There's something magical that will happen as you exercise while having a moment away from the neediness yet spending the time chatting with your little man. Or....go back home and sleep. Magical either way!

Tracey said...

I still feel overwhelmed most days and my baby is 6 months old and I only have two...not THREE!
I went through the same thing. I think months 2-4 there wasn't a day that went by that I didn't cry (often several times a day and often uncontrollably) and felt like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders.
Finally I have gotten Madelyn on a good napping schedule and she is sleeping through the night. It is like the heaven's have opened up in song and I am starting to feel like "me" again. Sort of.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel! Hang in there, and in the meantime, don't put so many expectations on yourself to be super-mom, super-wife or super- human!!!! :)

Tay said...

I didn't feel normal for about a year. Sadly. But I use the Wii Fit and it is fantastic! Especially if you find yourself stuck at home or unable to make enough time for a gym workout. I love it for winter since it snows here and I only drive in snow when we're out of food.

chandy said...

My husband has a saying that decreased expectations results in increased happiness. He is quite often right about that.

Now that you've got the clearance for some exerscise, I'm sure that will help you mentally. Nothing beats some fresh air and endorphins! (Unless, of course, you and your doctor feel PPD might be the issue...in which case, nothing beats fresh air, endorphins, and drugs!)

Jessie said...

Dear Katie, I totally understand. We are literally in the same boat! Here's what I have done to help.

I clean one thing. Even if it's just the kitchen. Whatever. Right now, as I'm writing, my trash is overflowing, laundry is waiting to be put away, and I keep thinking of massive amounts of organization that needs to get done at some point.

The truth is you are expecting too much from yourself. At least that's what my Bible Study discussion group leader keeps telling me. It takes a lot of time to adjust to having another child. And it's okay if somedays we're just barely hanging on.

I think a lot of the time it's about falling on our knees and surrendering to God. His grace is sufficient, especially when you are not enough. He's there for you, girl. Relax. Breathe. Take one thing at a time and accept the grace He offers for everything that was not accomplished.

I have tasks that have been carried over week after week for about two months now. :) I finally just got some pants hemmed for Reagan. I've needed to do that for 3 months! (At least!)

Anyways, you are loved. Relax. Breathe. One thing at a time. Grace for everything else.

P.S. No wonder you didn't call me back yesterday... :)

Misc Jenn said...

I completely agree with everyone else! And want to add that its possible you're just 100% exhausted (getting up in the night, dealing with three kids during the day and breastfeeding!), so no wonder you're overwhelmed.

Just as you said, try one thing at a time. After my daughter was born I made a "To Done" list that only included one thing... shower or load dishwasher or refill diaper caddy. Once I could accomplish that one thing easily I added another. By naming the list as I did, it made it easier to accomplish.

Best of luck and prayers for sleep and calm!

The Maid said...

Hang in there. :)

That is all I can say.

I don't think you need drugs. I have survived post partum depression (albeit not severe) without drugs for 8 pregnancies now. It takes time. The truth is, had I adapted daily excercise...even if just 20 minutes a day going for a walk...I would have conquered it even sooner!

I am not saying that drugs are wrong or unnecessary, I am just saying what all of your other commenters have said...give yourself permission to not be normal right now. :) I know it is not fun..it is overwhelming, but it is only for a short season!!! Putting drugs into your system, just delays the inevitable re-balancing act that your hormones are trying to figure out.

And this might be totally against the grain for you, but ask Mike to do dinner 3 nights a week, you do 3 nights a week (even if you do simple sandwiches or soup or something)...and the last night...go out to eat!!!

We all love your honesty and are glad to know you are not a robot.

The maid

PS - Before I get hate mail...I realize that there are actual clinical examples of post-partum depression that need medical help...but that is definitely a decision that should not be taken lightly! :)

Emily @ Little Home said...

Give yourself a break, let something go. I was telling a friend the other day that I feel like I do half*** job of everything these days. And I don't like it! But it is ok, at least for a little while. But that is why I am trying to let some things go. So that I can hopefully at least start doing a few things really well. That's how I'm feeling right now.

Brooke said...

I agree with everyone's comments. You need to cut yourself some slack girl. You just had baby #3! In addition, while you may not see it at the moment - your such an amazing mommy, wife and friend. Your blog inspires all to be a better people. This post especially hit home for me. I too feel overwhelmed a lot by all that needs to be done. Whether its running errands, working, getting things done around the house, cooking etc. And I have a 2 1/2 year old and 4 year old. So to be quite honest, its nice to know I'm not the only person who feels this way! Hang in there and stay positive. Things will begin looking up very soon. ; )

Shauna Okongo said...

Katie, in all things grace. The third kid changes everything. You and your hubby are officially outnumbered, and somehow the to-do list triples. I always saw the first 3 months as survival of the fittest. Living on that sort of sleep deprivation with the hormonal roller coasters is neither easy, nor conducive for productivity. You'll find your rhythm again, but that third kid really challenges the system. My youngest is now 7 months, and I am just now getting back into routines and getting "caught up" on life things. Grace, friend. Take it easy and take it all in. You'll blink, and your sweet baby will be 7 months. Grace.

Meg said...

I have suffered with depression for 15 years and have had to be on medication 3 separate times. I would recommend that you go to a specialized psychiatrist and not just an OB or a general practitioner. They are not able to diagnose you in the way a psychiatrist is able to. I also would not let friends tell you whether you need medicine or do not need medicine. I have struggled with lots of shame of having to be on medication for depression in years past. Thankfully God has used this for me to be able to reach out to others and encourage them to get help when they may need it. If you had diabetes, you wouldn't just give it time or exercise it away. If you had cancer you wouldn't just give it time, either. Depression is a MEDICAL CONDITION that can be helped and in some cases CURED if you're seeing a professional who is knowledgeable in what he/she is doing. Your sweet kids, your patient husband, and especially YOU are worth taking that first step and seeking help. Feel free to email me if I can be of further encouragement.

Just Me said...

Good for you for not only admitting these feelings to yourself, but for actually posting them for the world to see. That means you're completely in tune with yourself - and that's a huge step in moving forward.

Your hormones, as others have mentioned, are in a complete state of shock and flux, and will be for awhile. And I don't think we ARE supposed to understand how it all works. Kind of like kids - just when you get them in a routine and understand what they are up to - they switch it all up on you!

I think that's a great idea of writing a to do list. I used to write down (still do) everything - big or small - that I felt "needed" to get done, then mark them a 1, 2 or 3 according to how important they were. I usually found the "3s" never got done, as they didn't really need to be done.

As for the PPD, definitely talk to your doc about it. I never imagined after my second bub that I might be suffering from it (I told myself, that's someone else, not me), but my husband and mom both talked to me on separate occasions and felt that I was over-reacting to very small things, and perhaps I had some anxiety issues. I was put on Lexapro and was a new person within 3 days. Amazing. I stayed on it until my son was 1 (because of breastfeeding and my doctors wanting me to keep the chemicals consistent until I weened), tried to come off, but within 6 weeks was back on. We're celebrating his second birthday today and I've come to terms with the fact that this could just be the "new me" for several years - and that's okay. Whatever works!

I'm not saying that you have to go on an anti-anxiety med, or that you'll be on one forever if you do, but definitely keep an open mind and know that if have to go on one it does NOT mean you are some sort of "failure".

Anonymous said...

everybody has already said it, if you are offered help - take it. It is a stressfull time of year, add in 2 small children, a baby and after birth hormones. Please don't be hard on yourself, you do an amazing job and have a happy and healthy family. Take it one day at a time, I'm sure you will feel better as time goes by.


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