Hard to believe it’s December, even though we’re already about halfway through! This update post is obviously different from past update posts – first of all, because it’s so late! 🙂 I’ll get into that more soon. I love how recap posts function as a sort of journal about our everyday life, or different seasons, so even though this one is late, it’s still going up. 😉 And…it’s going to be more of a wordy post than others!
November was a more difficult month. Some months, despite fun events or other sweet memories, get overshadowed by a bigger theme, and that’s what happened to my month of November this year. It’s hard because I look back and feel like my month just evaporated without much positive acknowledgement, but it is what it is.
November’s overarching theme was health. (Ick, I know.) Despite a flu shot, I came down with the flu at the start of the month – being sick as a mom can really whack you out, because you’re technically always on duty regardless of how you feel! But what especially happened throughout the month was a smattering of intensifying battles with anxiety.
A little background: I had been experiencing dizziness ever since last February at least, and I chalked it up to postpartum hormones. But it worried me. Eventually, since the dizziness wasn’t going away, I made an appointment for myself and had bloodwork done in March. Nothing really was found, but I was told to try some random strong thyroid supplements from Amazon. Those didn’t accomplish hardly anything for the few months I took them. I kept having dizzy days and getting anxious about the dizziness throughout the summer.
Come November, and I was randomly waking up at night with my heart absolutely racing and my body shaking for no good reason (and it was hitting me during the day sometimes as well). It wasn’t every single day but soon became more frequent to the point where I was worried I truly had heart problems or thyroid issues (or all sorts of things – you know how your mind wonders what is wrong!). It was driving me to spend more time horizontal on the couch near Sophie while she played, or napping more during the day because I wasn’t sleeping well at night. That’s what was frustrating me the most – not being able to be as present with my daughter as I wanted and needed to be. Thankfully, I have an incredible sis-in-law living nearby who could help watch Sophie!
On my shakiest day a few weeks ago, I finally decided to take myself in. I made a same-day appointment at a different clinic. I had basically reached a crisis point because I was so scared, and needed some answers (and not just recommendations for supplements). I had more bloodwork done and it came back fine (except for being quite low in Vitamin D, but they have me on a strong dose of that now!). They thankfully told me it was NOT wise to be taking those random thyroid supplements, so those have gone into the trash. There’s no sense in further stimulating my already-fine thyroid. Yikes. I was also made to realize that (through sheer laziness – my wording, not theirs) I hadn’t been taking good care of myself physically or mentally. I wasn’t eating as much as I thought I was, since I was absorbed in feeding Sophie during meal times, getting easily distracted, and not focusing on fueling myself well. I was not getting enough calories because I had accidentally been neglecting good eating habits for a long time. I was also not hydrating well at all. But most of all, I had anxiety going on and was not dealing with it wisely. I was just letting it eat me up. I was convinced something was wrong with my physical health and I had allowed that to freak me out. My thoughts were swirling around constantly. And anxiety can manifest itself in physical symptoms (the dizziness and heart racing), which I was then worrying about, which continued the cycle of more physical signs of anxiety. Like my doctor said, it’s an ABSOLUTE CYCLE. (And I need to break it.)
The good news: This week I went to another specialist up in the Twin Cities who does internal medicine and knows more about women’s health and thyroid health (thank goodness we have awesome insurance, haha) and she, too, told me that nothing was physically wrong with me. She doesn’t feel that this is postpartum anxiety. It’s just anxiety in general. She says anxiety can swing like a pendulum but she reassured me it always swings back to where I can feel normal again. And I have the worst combination: being a perfectionist with anxiety! Whoops! 😉 There are certain seasons of life where it may intensify (even if there is NO logical reason to be anxious – that’s what anxiety can do, and that’s what it’s been like for me lately). But it’s something I can learn to manage. Being anxious is a tendency I’ve had my entire life – it’s just how some people are – but it got out of control this November! I need to know I’m not a failure when and if it does flare up, but I am in need of some good tools that can help lessen its grip and help me be more present.
My action plan as of now includes some basic important things that I’d pushed to the back burner in all these months of new motherhood, like actually hydrating properly, eating well and eating food I like, and incorporating exercise (something I’ve been terrible at). And good mental habits – not swirling around with all of the “what ifs.” Medication is still an option if I’m still not feeling myself later on, but my doctor told me studies have shown that often talking with a therapist can be as effective as meds – so I’m starting with the therapist for now. I’ve been enjoying relaxing yoga in the evenings, slowing down and reading more books, and refocusing on the true soul healing that comes from my Savior. (I’m in a Bible study this school year that’s focusing on the Old Testament – it’s incredible to read the Psalms with fresh eyes as I think about God being my ever-present Rock, Refuge, and Rescuer.)
Why am I sharing all of this with you? Because anxiety is real. It happens. And it’s literally what my month of November looked like, although it wasn’t labeled as anxiety (even in my mind) until recently. Of course anxiety happens in hard seasons sometimes, but anxiety can happen in those “what on earth do I even have to worry about?” seasons, too. That’s what was most frustrating for me – life is so good right now and there’s nothing I should be worrying about. But there are tools out there and so many caring, wise doctors who are willing to talk about solutions. I can’t tell you how much better I felt just finally knowing that my physical health is actually fine, and knowing that what I’ve been experiencing is a flare-up of anxiety BUT that there are great ways to move forward.
So, that’s why the blog hasn’t been full of new posts lately. I had gotten in an unhealthy cycle where every time Sophie was resting, I ran for the computer to accomplish yet another blogging task. (Let me tell you, giving myself that kind of pressure was not great for anxiety!) And I needed to step back a bit. I’ll be easing back in, because I don’t want to drop something that is usually such a fun creative outlet for me. Thanks for understanding! I hope that hearing about this has been an encouragement to you somehow – maybe in the sense that anxiety is part of our broken world, it’s real life, and it can happen, but it is something that we can learn to manage (with doctors’ help and also with tools for our own mind). I’ll be on this journey for the rest of my life, learning to manage any anxious tendencies, and I’m looking forward to proactively living in the present!
Now for a slew of November photos (which exude a lot more fun and joy than my above paragraphs. Because even in the midst of difficult seasons and scary/stressful months, there are still a lot of happy heart-memories to be found!)
A couple highlights from the month:
(How cute is Sophie?! She was so proud of her sticker!)
- For the second time, I got to vote for my own husband on my ballot! 🙂 Bjorn was reelected as mayor of our town this year, after his first two-year term. So proud of him!
- Harvest season concluded. It’s snowy and cold now, and winter has truly settled in. Fewer farming tasks these days often means Bjorn is home for supper and able to play with Sophie before her bedtime!
- Thanksgiving celebrations with family.
- Getting our Christmas tree up and decorating the house (early!) for the holidays! 🙂
^^ Sophie loves to “help” by getting her diaper changing stuff out and sitting on it! Too funny! ^^