I started this blog as a way to make fashion and style more accessible. I wanted readers to be able to find someone to relate to when it came to struggling to get dressed. The more closets I’ve been in the more confessions I’ve heard. A person’s home is a huge part of them, and their clothes is what they use to express themselves to their world. The thing is we can control what we wear. We can manipulate how other people perceive us by how we look on the outside. Like anything powerful, this can be good and be bad. The most impeccably dressed and stylish women can have a closet filled with insecurities. And some of the smartest most interesting women can have a closet filled with sweatpants and oversize baggy clothes. We can do the work to change our outside appearance. I can refill and rework your closet and make you look fabulous, but how you feel on the inside is much more complicated.
After my son was born my hormones didn’t seem to reset right. What I felt was PMS started to take up 3 weeks out of the month instead of a few days. I had felt like this before, both as a kid and in high school in college. Disinterested, annoyed and overwhelmed. At the time I pretty much only had to worry about me. I could “retreat” till it passed. I could take a long car ride and be alone. Those feelings would often go away as quickly as they came, so sitting it out for a day or too was manageable. Once I became a wife, and eventually a mother, checking out for a bit when I was in a bad mood wasn’t really an option. However staying put, feeling irritated with my kids and lashing out at my family wasn’t a life I wanted to live either. They say that something is a “problem” if it affects your ability to function in your every day life and/or affects your personal relationships. This irritability and feeling of being overwhelmed was doing both. This was not the mother I wanted to be. This was not the wife I wanted to be. I didn’t want to scream at the top of my lungs when one of my kids knocked a cup of milk onto the floor by accident. I didn’t want to wake up and feel like the day in front of me felt like climbing a mountain. I didn’t want to launch into tears because of a small tiff with my husband and I blew it up into a major incident. I didn’t want to hate myself anymore. Most importantly I wanted to be in control. I couldn’t stand that these feelings weren’t consistent or constant. It felt like I would wake up in the morning and suddenly it was decided for me which proverbial side of the bed my brain was getting out of.
My life is by no means hard. In fact, that was one of the reasons I knew something wasn’t right. Everything around me was pretty much perfect, yet there were days I would wake up and feel like I was trudging through 10 feet of snow. I didn’t know what that meant. I thought depression was where you had suicidal thoughts or your stayed in bed all day. I thought anxiety meant someone who was paranoid and afraid to leave the house. But the same way that alcoholism doesn’t always look like a person who gets up and downs vodka, hiding airplane sized bottles in their purse and in their car, depression and anxiety can look very different as well. Alcoholism can be something that others can see, or it can be something that someone works very hard to hide. Depression and anxiety are the same way. We treat people with alcoholism through rehab, steps and support. We treat a sinus infections, acid reflux and headaches with home remedies, prescriptions and over the counter medications. We treat a broken limb with a cast. We treat food allergies with dietary restrictions. There are solutions, whether they are within our own control, or by using the assistance of modern medicine. I tried treating my “trudging through thick snow” feeling with yoga, cardio, essential oils, self-help books, meditation, caffeine, wine, pretty much everything I could try without taking medication. None of it worked.
It took me almost 2 years to fill my prescription that my doctor gave me. I was so afraid of becoming the classic cliché, the suburban mom with no “real” problems who washes her meds down with a nightly glass of Chardonnay. The first time I tried medication I felt awful, foggy and nauseous. I quickly gave up and decided that this was the new me and I just had to fight harder. It took me another entire year to try again, this time a different medication and lower dosage. I can place this back to a conversation I had with woman whom I looked up to. She has one of those personalities that makes you feel better just by being around her. She had been through many challenges in her life and I looked as her as strong and positive. Then one day she told me a story. She told me about a time in her life when she couldn’t drive. She went to take her son to school one day and was completely overwhelmed and stricken with a feeling of panic. She could not get in the car. This is a woman who has a reputation for being able to move mountains and yet she couldn’t get in her own car. She knew she needed help and she went to her doctor. This was decades ago and she no longer takes the medication she so desperately needed back then. It was after hearing her story, that I felt it was okay to fill that prescription. It made me feel that I wasn’t going to be permanently broken. It made me feel I could work toward having control over some of my emotions.
Her story helped me so I made a promise to myself to be open and honest with mine. But it’s not always easy to do so. I’m still reluctant with just who I talk to about taking medication. Sure there a tons of jokes between women and moms about taking “crazy meds”,or “mommy pills”, but these are said with a wink. There are confessions on the sidelines of sporting events or over glasses of wine. There’s still a stigma and it can only go away if we put more out in the open. I can’t just say that I have to actually do it as well. But the truth is I’m scared that someone reading this will no longer want their kids to be friends with mine or come over for play dates. I get embarrassed picking up my prescription at the drugstore, wondering about what the pharmacist thinks is so wrong in my life. But I also still get embarrassed buying tampons, and I try to avoid going to the checkout lane with the 16-year-old boys with my box of super duper ultras, so maybe I just have to get over myself.
I am using my voice, or rather my words, to make sure that if someone out there reading this feels like there is something wrong with them, I want them to know they are not alone, weird, broken or crazy. There are many things I think are wrong with me. I can’t stand the c words cluster, clump and creamy and I think most dogs are better than humans. I can’t keep up with text messages and my favorite articles of clothing are my pajamas. I can’t cook if my life depended on it and I have no desire to learn. I like to read magazines from the back cover to the front and I think I’m allergic to musicals and amusement parks. There are no magic pills to fix any of these things. But I use the help of the medication to take away the power of that voice in my brain that says “You suck, you stink, you don’t belong and you can’t do this.” It still says those things but now I can tell it to simmer down, and I can know that it’s not true. I take medication to stop the feeling that the world will end if I find myself running late. I take medication so that when my kids spill milk I realize that it can be cleaned up and wiped away but yelling and mean words cannot.
The medication doesn’t work perfectly. There are still days when I feel like the walls are closing in and I just want to take a nap. Sometimes I feel so tired that I do shut down and sleep. Then of course I feel bad about myself for sleeping, annoyed that I feel like I am being lazy. The simplest list of chores feels overwhelming and too daunting to even try. Negativity and sadness creeping in like a fog, even if I shut the windows and the doors it can still seeps its way into my brain. Something stupid and small, like a tangled vacuum cord will send me into a string of mother effers that would make Kanye West blush. This is life. We get annoyed, we get frustrated and we cry. We cannot feel the highs without the lows. I don’t want to walk around like a medicated zombie or a a robot. Remember when Britney Spears was fresh off her breakdown and recovery and they placed her out on the MTV stage? She literally swam in slow motion through her performance, too heavily medicated to resemble anything like her former self. Finding the right medication takes time and patience. Dosages have to be adjusted and monitored through clear communication with your doctor. When you find what works for you it allows you to put the brakes on the runaway train of negative or irrational thoughts. They are still there but I have a little more confidence to tell them to shut up. For me it feels like someone has wiped the grime off of a window that I didn’t even realize was that dirty. Things get clearer and I feel more rational. I feel better.
But lately I have felt a little extra out of whack. Spring feels like it’s the new Fall, and it’s filled with tons of parties, appointments, emails, texts, phone calls and obligations. We are busy. Some people are okay with this but I am a true introvert and my social battery dies out rather quickly. When I feel overwhelmed by too much going on I become snippy and impatient to my friends and family. Simple decisions such as what to eat for breakfast feel like I am trying to solve world peace. As this article so beautifully states, we are becoming human-doings instead of human-beings. This does not help the train of “I suck” feelings to slow down, in fact it speeds it up. If I could only get out of my own way, if I could just stop beating myself up. This is a cyclical thought process because then, of course, I get mad at myself for not being able to stop being mad at myself, and yes, I realize how confusing that sounds. When I’m feeling this way I feel like a fraud if I talk about style and clothes, especially when all I want to do is stay at home and wear pajamas. I never want to be fake, mostly because I’m not good at it. So as much as this blog post is a little off topic, I have talked to too many women lately who are struggling. I want them to know that it can feel better and it is okay to need help. My life is better than it was several years ago because I’ve been able to let go of some of the stupid shit. Some of that is the medication and some of it is just growing up. With help I am a better mother, wife, sister, friend and daughter. I have been able to impact others around me more positively than negatively. I’m still working about how I talk to myself on the inside but it’s getting better. I don’t know how long I will take medication but I am no longer stressing about it. I have more good days than bad days and that is a great thing.
Wouldn’t it be easier if there was a help button?
I understand being scared to talk to your doctor. I understand not wanting your spouse to think there is something wrong with you. I get that feeling like you have failed if you have to resort to medication. I understand these thoughts because I sometimes still have them. Depression, anxiety, panic attacks and anger make us feel ugly on the inside. They invite shame and avoidance to come hang out at their party. It’s not fair. I believe we can have a bigger party where everyone is invited. We can keep talking about what it feels like to “not feel right.” We can share what worked for us and what didn’t. We can work to take away judgement. We can encourage others to find help, in whatever ways work for them. We can listen, support and show up. We can tell others our stories so they know they are not alone.
Thanks for reading this suuuuuppppperr long post, if in fact you are still reading!