Friday, December 31, 2010

Losing, and Finding my Mind

I debated writing about this. But I had a Bad Week, a few weeks ago. I hope that I hit my low, because I really don't want to imagine having it get worse. And I wasn't going to write about it, but now I really feel compelled to do so. Perhaps my story can help somebody else. And in order to understand my New Year's Resolutions, you have to know where I'm coming from. So if you want to read about me losing my mind, grab a beverage and have a seat, because this one's going to take a while.

Chris and I have been fighting a lot lately. It's not entirely him though. There's a lot of stuff going on that makes me mad. Stuff I can't control, stuff I can't do much about. But there's some stuff I can do things about. On this particular Tuesday, here's what happened to set me off - Chris and I were fighting, arguing all day. Nothing particularly unusual about that. I wasn't feeling well, having caught Sam's cold, and Chris didn't want to let me take a nap. He played all the way through naptime, but being so noisy I couldn't sleep. He even woke up Sam at one point. Sam was lucky enough to go back to sleep, I didn't. Eric came home ever so briefly for dinner and was gone again, so there really wasn't much of a respite. I let Chris watch some cartoons before bed, and when I told him to get ready for bed, he wouldn't. He got a time out for not getting up to go to bed. When I went to retrieve him, I couldn't walk into his room without tripping on toys there were so many on the floor. He had entirely upended his bins and the mess was amazing. So I told him to clean it up. He didn't move. Time out again. Big Tantrum, followed by much screaming, he screamed through the whole time out. When he got out, I told him again to clean his room, when he didn't, he got a spanking too.
That's our normal process, time out and if that doesn't work, we proceed to spanking. That is usually enough to work. It didn't this time. I've never had to spank him more than once. But this night the punishments kept coming back to back, no rest. And the spanking had no effect. He just cried and kept crying. I couldn't send him to bed without a path from the door to the bed, so we had to commence cleaning. OK, I commenced cleaning. He just stood there, looking like he didn't know how to clean his room. Well, he KNOWS how to pick up, and he KNOWS how to put his little toys in the bins. And that made me madder, I was Not going to clean this mess, his giant mess, up. Because he KNOWS better and he's just being Obstinant.
My Mom used have this big thing about "Willfull Disobedience" - if you knew better, and you knew she'd say no, or had said No, and you did it anyway, the punishment was going to be bigger than an accidental mistake.
So I was Fuming. So I turned him around, putting his back to my belly, and bent him over and with my hands over his hands, I used his hand to pick up a toy, and put it in the bin. One toy away. Another toy away. Then he laughed.
Oh, you laugh?! He thought it was a game or something I guess, but I flipped out. This is So Not Funny. I'm still fuming, so I swing him around and toss him up on his bed, yell Time Out! And storm out of the room. I sit down for a second, my heart his pounding, I'm panting. His cry is a little different, but I don't care, maybe he's finally getting it?
When I go in, he's sitting there, cradling his arm, and he's got a scratch on his head. What? What in the world? I ask what happened, he says I hurt him. Oh God.
Upon investigation, I realized I scratched his head, and he hit the bed funny when he hit and got his funny bone. So that pain dissipated, as we are talking actually. But the scratch on his head? I have no idea how I did it. And it scares me. We talk. I apologize for hurting him. But it wasn't funny, he needs to know that when I'm angry and he's not obeying, it's Not Funny.
Am I justifying hurting him? Maybe. But I shouldn't leave a mark. I should never hit him so hard that I leave a mark. It happened once before, and accident where he moved when I flicked him, and I got him with my nails, which were too long at the time. But that was totally accidental.

What scared me the most this time, was that I had no idea I'd hurt him. I'd gotten so mad. I'd almost gone wild on him, and that scared me.

Eric comes home while Chris and I are talking it out. I tell him what happened, and we put Chris to bed. No story. Just calmly talk it out. I grab a trashbag and put all the toys in it. I'm still angry, but I still need the floor clear. My theory is that he has too many toys if he can't clean them up. They are still in a trashbag in our room. With his new influx of toys, I can probably just box these up, and go through it, but I've postponed the dirty work to get to the Cause.

And the Cause is what scared me.

I got so angry that I didn't realize I'd hurt my child. Eric and I talked about it, but he said it sounded accidental, and was fully supportive of me. But, I had trouble going to sleep, and sleeping that night. By 4 a.m. I was on the internet surfing Child Abuse. But you know what? If you suspect you could be a Child Abuser, there isn't a lot for you. There's a lot of places to run to, like Sheltering Wings in Hendricks County, and there's a few hotlines to call. And that's really wonderful, if I wanted to wake the kids and go in the middle of the night. But I didn't. Once I calmed down, we were ok, and once Eric got home, it had all gotten a lot better. But if you're scared because you hurt your child, and are worried you might be headed down the path towards abuse, there isn't much help online. Of the couple surveys that I took, we didn't qualify as living with an abuser. So that didn't really seem to be it. I was looking for Anger Management too, since losing my temper seemed to be more the root of the problem, not abuse. I confessed my fears to Eric in the morning, at a more reasonable hour, and though he thought I might be catastrophizing a bit, he recalled having a mental health hotline was part of our insurance.

I'm actually thankful for Computer Programmers that have postal before me, because this hotline has become a lifesaver.

So I waited until naptime so I could be on the phone a while. They ask the standard questions, "Are you afraid you're going to harm yourself or someone else right now?" Well, yes, I kind of was. Once I explained, they said I didn't sound homicidal, but they wanted to know if I wanted Help. Yes. So they told me they have counselors on call 24/7, but gave me a few names of people that could be able to help me, Providers, they said...yeah, Therapists. Oh I get it. I don't know why it surprised me, when I realized after hitting the first answering machine, that they were Therapists. But it did. Not that I'm ashamed of needing therapy. I guess it was just a surprise. I wanted Help. I guess this is the form it takes. I'm glad. Obviously, something is going on, I need something, some kind of help, perhaps a therapist is exactly what I would need to figure it out. They gave me a few names, but they didn't mesh for a few reasons, insurance not being taken etc. After a couple days of hunting, I finally got a good match. And went in on the following Monday afternoon.
In the mean time, I was still stressing out, so when I called back for more names and numbers to call, they asked if I wanted to talk to one of their on-call people, and I said Yes.
She started off by telling me, she's not a Therapist, asked the standard homocidal/suicidal questions and when it was established that I wasn't in any danger to myself or anyone else, then she explained she's a Coach. She Coaches me to make a Plan, and to jot down ideas, goals, and we discuss problem target areas. She and I talked about what happened, and she asked about Chris. And when I explained a little bit about what's been going on with him, his health, mine, the new house. She said I didn't sound depressed but Stressed. I was like, duh, yeah. But seriously, DUH! Or course, I'm stressed. The Holidays, plus Chris, plus the house, my Mom, and being sick on top of it, of course I couldn't handle it. Really it was like a light bulb went off!
And I felt a bit better. Strange really, just having an idea where the unknown problems lie made me feel better. Almost instantly, I realized I'm stressing out that's why I wasn't prepared for multiple back to back meltdowns. And the Stress probably led to getting that stupid cold. When you get stressed, the immune system is less effective too. And Chris. He probably had no idea where to begin cleaning that monster mess. He needed my guidance, not my orders. I needed to start small and say something like, Pick up all the cars and put them in the car bin.
Then she asked about what I do for fun. Ha. I sew, sometimes, but that's been hard, the baby girl's blanket I'm working on is now 4 months old, because Sam likes yarn, and Chris likes my hooks. I blog, and take pictures, but even that has become so much like Homework it's not even fun anymore. I said, I wanted to learn about photography, and take an online class, but who knows when. She actually thought that was a great idea. She said my mind wasn't getting any stimulation. Sure the internet is a nice escape, she said, but it doesn't work your mind, I can't rely on it fully. And you know what? I had been. I facebook, I blog, and that's about it.
She said I needed to do something to expand my mind, better myself. And in bettering myself I'd be better prepared to care for others. (i.e. Young Minds) There it was Again, another light bulb. Of course, I have followed my Mom's theory for a long time, you can't keep doling out spiritual help and guidance without being spiritually full yourself. The cup has to be full in order to share. Though I haven't been spending as much time with the Lord since I had kids either. Funny, another friend of mine was just writing about that, how she didn't feel as close to God once her prayers for a child were answered. It's kind of True. The most closeness I get to Him lately, it to apologize for my actions and to Thank Him. At least he knows I'm still here, but how lovely it would be to get Closer, to get Deeper into the Word. Discern his will for me. I know His Will is for me to be the boy's Mom, He's made that perfectly clear. But what else?
Anyway, why didn't I understand that beside being Spiritually Full, I needed to be Mentally Ful-Filled. I need mental stimulation to fill my cup to foster cup filling in the boys! This coach told me to make a list, my homework if you will, of things that I want to do to step away, develop my mind. She also told me to take Time for ME. Ideally, I should get away 5 minutes a day, One evening a week, and One Day a Month. I laugh. And even though that would be really hard. Getting away once a week (either day or weekend) that should be do-able. Not doctor visits, going to the chiropractor didn't count. And waiting to write until after the kids are down for bed doesn't count. She said, I should step outside for just 5 minutes a day. Step away. Hm....
I started walking to the mailbox to put the Christmas cards inside, just a couple at a time. The cold fresh silent air was good. I went to my first therapy session. We spent the whole time talking about Chris and his health history, and how November was Bad, which led to that Bad Day the week before. She didn't think I was Crazy...just Stressed. But I was OK with going back to discuss other factors, and maybe gain some more Coping Skills to deal with the stress. Coping Skills was Coach's catch phrase. I think in all the day to day, keep the children living, that I've been doing, I've lost my coping skills...or buried them. The Coach also said Eric and I need some Us time. Ha. But went Christmas shopping that very night, I called Mom and she watched the boys. Just last night they both spent the night at their house, so Eric and I could go see Wicked together, have a Real Date, and we even had the morning to chill. That's really great for my mental health. It was really good that all this happened over Christmas break so I could have my MIL help out and watch the kids so I could go to Therapy and a Date. God Bless Her. But I can't rely on her forever, and Eric's got too much on his plate right now. They said that if Eric and I could survive the building of this house, we could survive anything. Well, we're in the thick of it. And it's Hard. I can start relying on him heavier once the house is finished, heck, it'll Be tons easier once the house is done, I hope. In the mean time, it's hard to schedule time away from home, and from the kids. I'm blessed that when I find myself with a bit of Time, I can call Mom W. and ask and she loves to take the boys. But we need to get more of a mental health developing routine. I made a small list, and it's going to be my New Year's resolutions.

1. Activate my Mind with a current interest. Like I said, I want to take a Photography Class. Well, I posted on FB, and my Dad said he'd be interested in Teaching me. Oh yeah, Daddy used to be a photographer, he was a journalism major, and that was his job in school, and how he met my Mom. In case you ever wonder where I get it, it's from him. Well, he volunteered to be my Teacher! AND he got me a book for Christmas. So we're going to get started...provided I can stay awake long enough to read it.

2. Get in the Word - Obviously I can't function without God. And I've been straying from his word. A friend is starting a Bible study on the Message in the New Year. I'm hopping on that Bandwagon!

3. Along those same lines, I want to do something for me, AND something for God. And have been missing being in choir. Christmas Eve service was really hard not being up there singing along. The thing that took me out, was I just would let Chris run around with the choir after we pulled him out of the nursery for communion, he'd just stay with us the rest of the service. Well, he got older. And we had Sam. I just couldn't maneuver both of them, the books and myself. Nope. But then Eric was thinking, that we could just sit in the congregation, and head up to sing, and go back to sit. I could do that. Then I could have the Joy (?) of sitting with Chris in the congregation through the service AND sing with the choir. Could I possibly Have both? Sure. Why not? Until the house is done, I'm not going to demand to go to Wednesday night rehearsals, but I can do Sunday morning, while Chris is in Sunday School. I asked Audrey,

4. I'm Fat. I want to get thinner. Healthier. My chiropractor has been on me to exercise. I should. I need to stop eating like I'm still pregnant or nursing. I'm not anymore. And now I'm on the verge of outgrowing my fat clothes. Time to get Serious. Time to do something about it. So I'm going to join a gym. One with Child Care, so I can take the kids with me, and not have to listen to anyone gripe about having to watch them while I go to do something. Perhaps Eric can join me too...once the house is done. The church where my Mom2Mom group meets, Connection Pointe, has a Family Gym membership for $85 a year, they even have yoga classes, which sounds right up my alley. And Child care is $2 a child for however long we're there. Deal.

5. Fix the Baby (babies). Chris is getting help this year. By Gum. Boy Howdy. We'll probably have surgery for his MACE in June. And that'll take the summer to get the kinks worked out, and that's one thing. Sam needs help since he flunked his Swallow study in November. We'll be following up with that. I'd like to see some improvement there too. While I was telling what happened with Chris and I to a friend of mine, a social worker in Domestic Violence, she said not surprising that he's having some emotional delay and that's frustrating him. Huh, of all the delays Chris may have, I never gave any considered Emotional Delay. But when discussing his medical history with my therapist, I mentioned it, and she suggested some Emotional Play with a Child Therapist. Now I don't necessarily think we need to go that far. But I did call Developmental Pediatrics at Riley to see if we can assess Chris to see if he is suffering from emotional delays, maybe that's why he gets so frustrated so easily. And I get frustrated at his frustrations, and we just Snowball. So perhaps we can both get some help this way...provided Riley can get us in. We spent this week playing phone tag, and they aren't seeing people until March. Ugh. Not happy about this, but that's why it's a New Year's Resolution, I'm going to keep at them, and keep on them until they all help me fix my babies. Chris enters Kindergarten this next fall, and I want him to be ready. And I want to be ready too.

Anyway, that's enough on all that for now I think.


Elizabeth said...

Good for you, Cathy. This motherhood thing is hard, and I believe we weren't meant to do it alone. It sounds like you have a great plan!

Stephanie B said...

Appreciate your honesty, friend. Can't wait to see what the new year brings for you!

Kathy said...

You've been through so much - you're taking the right steps! I hope that 2011 is happier and healthier for your family!

Cathy said...

Thanks friends. I figure if there's anyone out there that's having trouble with Stress, and they don't recognize it like I did, maybe they'll go out and get some Help too.

Unknown said...

Thank you for posting this. My sister is in the exact same place as you. I'm forwarding this to her and hope she reads it, although she rarely takes my advice.
I took a photography class at the Indianapolis Art Center and highly recommend them.