I recently came across something I had written (but never posted) on August 7, 2018.
Therapist: So, what brings you here today?
Me: I don’t know. I just feel overwhelmed. With my life.
That was how my very first therapy session started. It was the spring of 2013.
At the time, I had a job that I wasn’t happy at. Pretty much no money. A 7 year old with not-yet-diagnosed ADHD, who was struggling in school. A 6 year old, whose autism had a chokehold on the entire house. The relationships with my husband, father, mother and grandfather varied from shitty to non-existent. I had curled inward; away from my friends.
I felt very alone. I was a mess. Drowning. And I saw no way out. I didn’t go to therapy thinking there was anything they could do or say to “fix” my life. I mean really. What could they do about any of the things I was anxious about or overwhelmed by? But what other choice did I have? I had to try something.
I ended up going to 5 sessions. It helped, but not in the way I think most people go to therapy expecting it to. My therapist helped me to simplify and organize my thoughts. It was a relief to say some things out loud that I’d been guarding tightly. Ultimately, we decided that my life boiled down to 2 things.
- Sometimes things suck and you just have to get to a place where you accept that they suck and you have to stop looking for/hoping for/expecting different. Just accept.
- Some things – like your job and your marriage – can change, but they won’t change (for good or bad) on their own. You play an active role in what you allow. How much are you willing to tolerate before you make steps towards making that change?
Shaunie (my wife): What’s wrong? You got quiet.
Me: I’m just in a funk.
How do I explain it to her? She’s a “fixer”. But there’s no easy fix when depression creeps in. You know all the things.
You know it could be worse; there are people who love you; you have lots of reasons to be happy and grateful.
You know that if you ask her to do something specific she will make it happen. It’s who she is.
You also know that she’s dealing with her own schtuff and the last thing she needs is you adding to her plate a bunch of “to-do’s” that will ease you to some extent but won’t magically “un-funk” you so there’s no point in putting her through that.
Everything feels like a huge problem and like it will take energy I don’t have. The house needs tidying up. I feel fat. I look old. I have to renew my license. The kids need new passports. I need to catch up on over 200 work emails. I have a phone call to a sick friend I’m supposed to make. I need to make arrangements with the kids dad for him to see them again before the summer is out. I got an email saying my credit score had dropped. I always have another dentist appointment I need to schedule. And I always know that the next one won’t be the last one. I am SO OVER THE DENTIST.
No, I don’t want tea or to laugh or sex. I just want to curl up in bed. It’s all I can manage. That’s what feels easy. Doable.
We cuddle and I fall asleep.
It’s a sweet relief. From life.
But now it’s the next day and I can’t stay in bed. I have to shower and go to work and make phone calls and wash dishes and hang back up the picture that fell off the wall.
I think back to my therapy sessions.
What can I control? What do I have to let go of? What feeling is weighing me down that I need to just accept/let go off, instead of trying to make it be different? One thing at a time – The tension in my brain starts to unwind.
Ace starts 7th grade soon. It comes with certain stresses, but, in quiet honest moments, I am not too worried about that. It’s his second year of middle school and last year went pretty well. He has a cell phone now, thanks to his Grandma, so I’ll have to figure out some rules around his use of it as well as install some parental controls; but that’s stuff we can manage.
This one is a little harder.
My heart constricted a little when I typed his name. For the last couple of years, I had not fretted about the start of the new school year. But he’s going into 5th grade which will be his last year of elementary school. I cannot handle the thought of him leaving that environment. Elementary school had begun to feel safe for him. Comfortable. Predictable in its own way; even as we moved up the grades. His teachers, the mostly innocent and friendly and understanding kids, the routine. The special education team was always the same at IEP meetings etc. Middle school will be different. There will be a totally different set of students as none of his current friends will attend the same middle school as him. A different school staff who don’t know and love him – yet. A vastly different daily routine. Different expectations.
“Different” with Jay is scary.
BUT, I can’t control these things – And certainly not now. Why am I already stressing about next year? I don’t know. Ask my old friend anxiety.
Things will settle down soon enough I reassure myself. I will get over these feelings eventually OR we will address the things that need addressing – Which will serve to calm me down. I KNOW this. I know this because I’ve been down this road before. More than once.
And in this case, today, the knowing is the force holding me together. It is my life jacket.
To Be Continued ………….