Saying “I’ve kept busy” would be a lie. I’ve actually been keeping very UN-busy. Spending more time in bed during the dwindling day time hours than any time in my life before (even pregnancy), going out less and for shorter amounts of time and in general just DOING less. To make it sound even worse and selfish, a lot of the stuff I am doing with my time and energy, isn’t exactly the necessary shit that piles up around the house that I was so preoccupied with previously.
Does housework still somehow get done? Yes. Does my family still get fed? Yes. Does life go on even if there are crumbs on the floor and we’ve eaten food from packages more times than not the last week?…. Yes.
Keeping constantly busy with what NEEDED to be done to keep everyone happy (including my perfectionist self) and everything done was running me ragged and honestly it was a big to do list for a healthy and energetic person to be able to accomplish. Never mind a fatigued, sickly and sore Mama like me. I’ve really been setting myself up for a fall over and over again. Physically I’m pretty much fucked no matter what I do, but mentally I DO have the choice to de-load a bit and re-evaluate what’s worth spending my time and energy on.
At first this started when my depression really was at its worst. I was on auto pilot and mentally and physically just capable of very little input or output. I didn’t care if the house was clean (hell I didn’t care if I was clean….) or if laundry was put away or if the kids and Mr. Mango didn’t do their set of chores either.
What did we all learn from this experience? Well, the rest of the family sure learned exactly how many little things Mommy does around the house that they take for granted. Things that when not done sure pile up quickly. As well, they realized how many times Mommy does their chores for them because they just…don’t.
I myself realized two things as well. That I do a lot and it’s OK to cut shit from the list or delegate to the kids or Mr. Mango shit that I can’t do or have trouble with or just don’t have time for. I SHOULDN’T HAVE TO DO EVERYTHING AT HOME. Being a stay at home mother (chronically ill or not) doesn’t mean I’m on call 24/7, no breaks, no lunch hour, no time off. It doesn’t mean that the household, chores, children and meals are 100% my responsibility. I also learned that when I fall behind because of illness or any other reason…no one dies. Somehow the necisarry slack gets picked up. Sure maybe things don’t get done exactly how I would do ’em but that’s the sacrifice one has to make when you give up that control. No one went hungry, no one went to work or school with day old mustard stains (there were a couple close calls…), there was no salmonella breakout from un-lysoled counter tops.
Not having the pressure to DO EVERYTHING or be constantly ready for the next complication really helped me mentally. Even now I can’t say I’m recovered, but it’s much more manageable and I’m much less worried and so is Mr. Mango. I’ve been able to move on from autopilot to finding a way to adjust back into the swing of things. Lets just say though, we’re not just going back to ‘normal.’ We would end up right back where we started.
Instead, I spend a lot more of my time, energy and valuable spoons being distracted. I’m getting back into old hobbies I had left behind due to time restraints or simply using my illness as a reason I “can’t” anymore.
Did you know I used to play guitar? Yup! Even in public, with other people….and didn’t get booed. Over the last few years I stopped bothering both because any time I tried I got mauled by my children to play twinkle twinkle over again (something they DON’T do to their guitarist father I might add) and eventually because of arthritic pain making it difficult to play for long and painful afterwards and now nerve pain and damage making it impossible to hold a pick for long. The Ms. Mango vs the guitar pity party has been pretty rough and tears have been involved but enough is enough. It may be painful, it may be frustrating but there’s a way I can make it work and it has been a huge mental help to have a couple times a week (any more than that and my hands are useless for say, holding a cup, or signing my name….see…balance).
I cook just for ME. Family be damned. For months due to my fucked up mystery stomach issues I have missed out on some amazing home cooked meals. While everyone else eats what I’ve prepared, I’ve had an ensure or a box of pureed soup or broth. Well the tables have turned my friends. I am starting to use some of my culinary skill, knowledge and passion to make foods that are actually a little more tummy friendly for me….even if the rest of ’em don’t like it.
I made myself an amazing Shrimp Bisque. It was time consuming but actually relatively easy on the joints. While I enjoyed my meal fit for a fancy restaurant….my family ate KD. Don’t feel bad for them though, 2 days previous I made the most amazing bbq side ribs that we all got to enjoy (I seem to digest small amounts of protein just fine YAY). Simply put, if I’m going to put in the time and energy to make a meal from scratch, some of the time at least, its going to be something I can eat…whether they want it or not is up to them. The Bisque was fucking delicious by the way, they don’t know what they’re missing!
I do my hair and make up more often….even if I’m going nowhere. I read an article on The Mighty a while ago on the subject of “You don’t look sick” and all that and the woman who wrote it points out that she sometimes does her make up even if she’s going to sit in her pajamas all day. Because it makes her feel better and that’s all that matters. I thought about it and it’s really true. I feel better when I think I look a little better….or at least not like a pasty Mombie corpse. Putting on make up and putting up my hair is much more than just covering under eye circles or evening out skin. It’s a fun way of self expression and sass. Besides it’s giving me a good opportunity to play with hairstyles for Mr. Mango’s upcoming work Christmas party. I am out of practice and need it badly. Despite my fingers not working to my liking I’m happy to find that at least unlike guitar and cooking….it doesn’t really hurt anymore than doing nothing. It’s a safe hobby, at least in comparison.
Lastly, I’m just goofing off with the kids more. That is when my head is not throbbing in madness (it’s been a rough few days of very very very very quiet around here). Whether its things like giant pumpkin explosions, a batch of cookies or a surprise visit to pick them up from school. Making the most out of the moments where Mommy isn’t at her worst, even if it’s also when she isn’t at her best.
Yesterday while my migraine wasn’t gone, it was well managed ‘enough’ with a variety of different medications and coping techniques that the Little Dude and I decided to swing by the school to grab the other two. It was beautiful out (don’t get me started on the global warming thing…scary shit, but might as well enjoy it while it’s here, could have had a blizzard instead). We had a lazing and long walk home and chatted about all sorts of nonsense. Mentally it’s the best I’ve felt in months.
So really keeping up with some good doses of distraction from both the mental state I’ve been in as well as the physical stuff I’ve been going through has been a huge help in lifting the depression slowly as well as making the physical pain seem a little more bearable.