Week off Work

I am off work this week for “vacation.”  I have nothing planned except to study for an upcoming exam and to get back into some sort of exercise routine.  Today, though, I have already found myself tired and overwhelmed with nothingness that I have locked myself in my bedroom under the muse of studying.  So far I have: done a headspace meditation, drank my coffee, checked in in facebook, and ignored my child.  Now I am blogging.

I have found myself to be extremely tired.  I was on call over the weekend, but for the few nights before that, I went to bed right after I put my kids to bed.  I have been doing nothing but eating, sleeping, and working, quite literally.  I am feeling myself getting grumpier and heavier and somewhat depressed.  I am hoping that this week will help to cheer me up, but I fear that it’s just going to make me realize more of what I miss about my home life – or else make me feel like a bad mom for locking myself away from some time to myself.

It was my goal to stay on top of running and exercise during this pregnancy to prevent myself from gaining 50 pounds like I did the last two times.  I was also hoping that I would be able to curb some of the complications I had in my last pregnancy by being more active.  Unfortunately, the exhaustion and nausea has been overwhelming and I haven’t been doing anything.  Last week I only went to TKD once and even that was a challenge.  I have already been gaining weight and it is making me grumpy.  I know it is my own fault, but I can’t seem to stop myself from eating, especially when I am not nauseous.  It also doesn’t help that I have continued to have spotting all week, which makes me feel like I should be taking it a little easier, physically.

Today I am setting less-than-lofty goals.  I am going to go for a massage, since I had that booked a while ago.  But then I am going to go for a 5K jog/walk around the neighbourhood later this afternoon, likely with my older son on his bike.  This will make me feel better about being active and also about spending time with my kids.  Later I will take my younger son to his little soccer game/practice.  I will go to TKD, and I will also get a little bit of studying in as well.  That’s all for today.

Wish me luck as I try to lift this cloud of grumpy exhaustion from around my head this week.

Combat Exhaustion

I am losing the battle against exhaustion.  It is now taking its hold over my mental skill and mood.  I am sure that I could sleep all day and never feel rested.  I can’t decide if this is a normal physiological change, combined with the medications I take for nausea, or if it is other, more worrisome factors.  You see, along with exhaustion comes a certain level of disinterest, irritability, grumpiness, and an all around dismal mood.

Today I have the day off to “study.”  I plan to do a little but of studying, but so far I have slept in, walked my older son to the bus stop, eaten breakfast, dropped my nanny and younger son at the grocery store, picked up a coffee and a muffin (which I didn’t really need, seeing as how I ate breakfast), and drove across the city to an appointment I made to talk about “options.”  It may sound like a productive morning, but what concerns me most about the whole morning is that I didn’t really feel inclined to spend time on my day off with my kids.  I was glad to bring one to the bus stop, and even though I am 45 min early for my meeting, I thought I would use this time to “study” instead of hanging out with my younger son.  Interesting, considering that my biggest complaint in life is that I don’t get to spend much time with my kids.

Even last night, for example, I had a very half-assed approach to the bedtime routine: I was half passed out on the bed while my husband got the boys ready and when they were tucked in I went and spent less than 5 min with each of them to say goodnight and give them kisses.  Dead-mom.  Totally.

I am worried that maybe my mood and my anxiety are taking over a little, but I don’t know where that leaves me right now.  The medications that I took before are not safe in pregnancy, and I have never really tolerated the ones that are safe in pregnancy.  And, if it isn’t my mood, then will all of this pass when I am feeling less exhausted?  And, when will that be, if ever?

I am feeling a little lost, guilty, and unsure of what to do.  This meeting I have coming up has everything do with “options” for my training program.  Do I continue doing what I’m doing or do I do something else.  I love what I do (except right now when all I care about doing is sleeping) but I don’t like doing it for 11 hours a day and two weekends a month… for the next 4 years.  But does that mean I find something else that I maybe don’t enjoy as much but will give me more time to spend with my kids (and to also sleep?).  I really don’t know the answer and that stresses me out.

How do I get more sleep?  How do I become a better mother when I’m this exhausted?  What do I give up?

Do you ever feel like your level of exhaustion gets in the way of your parenting?  What do you do about it?

“This is Happy” – Book Review

It has been a long time since I’ve started and completed a book in less than 4 days.  This is Happy by Camilla Gibb is one book that had me captivated from the first few pages right until the acknowledgements at the end of the book.

I don’t know where to start with my review of this book, except to say that it is simple yet profound all at the same time.  In 270 odd pages she manages to tell the story of her entire life, from her early childhood to her current life. It seems like a short amount of space to dedicate to almost 40 years of a person’s life.  However, she manages to capture everything that is meaningful, powerful, emotional, and human while succinctly conveying the struggles and triumphs of her life.

I feel like the biggest reason I was so captivated by the simple and straightforward writing in this book was because sometimes I felt like she was describing the exact same emotional and mental struggles that I, myself have had throughout my life.  Camilla Gibb shamelessly recounts her multiple struggles with depression, including her hospitalizations.  She discusses the mental health struggles of her family members, the rise and fall of her relationship and marriage to her wife, her sudden and unpredictable desire to have a child, her failed pregnancy, and then her successful pregnancy… all that and more.

What I found most profound was her struggles with pregnancy and parenthood; specifically, how she felt so drawn towards having a child and then spent her entire pregnancy wondering how she was going to love and care for her child.  After the birth of her daughter, she continues this emotional journey and expresses her fear of having to “be alone” with her daughter – like she doesn’t know if her version of parenthood and the emotions she feels towards to role are proper and acceptable.  Yet, she feels compelled to try again for another child.

For the first time I feel I have finally read an expression of parenthood that is similar to how I can feel at various moments in my life.  Instead of the overwhelming “Mommy Wars” that I see happening everywhere around me, I have found someone who expresses their fears, uncertainties, and truths associated with parenting: Am I doing this right?  Am I doing it for the right reasons? And, is it okay to feel like I’m not doing it right?

Camilla Gibb’s recollection of her struggles with parenthood is only one of the moments that seemed to parallel my life.  It seems most pronounced now, given my recently new pregnancy and all the uncertainty I feel around a decision that I thought I was happy to make.  Some other important parallels I found including the sudden and somewhat unexplained loss of an important relationship in her life.  While she desribes the rise and fall of her relationship with her wife, I can claim a similar emotional experience in the rise and fall of my relationship with my old friend and mentor, Kay.  Another area that is overwhelmingly familiar: the constant struggle from an early age with the dark and unpredictable tendrils of depression.  Camilla’s rendition of her multiple struggles with depression throughout her life seemed to echo strongly inside of me.

And yet, with all of this difficult times written out on paper and shared with the harsh and unforgiving world, she made the decision to title her book, “This is Happy.”  This is Happy: struggles with depression, anxieties and uncertainties around parenthood, loss of relationships, mental illness… But there is also the beauty of her life that shines though: Her Daughter.  Those unexpected relationships that she formed in her life and became the most meaningful and influential.  Her success in life, academically and as a writer.  She is someone who made her life what she wanted it to be, despite everything that she struggled to overcome.

This book resonated with me in ways that I am still discovering, even as I write this review.  Life is messy, unforgiving, full of struggle and heartache.  Despite all of that, however, life is beautiful, meaningful, rewarding… and Happy.

Depression Setting

I’m starting to feel it.  It’s been quite a while since I’ve felt those tendrils of depression reaching out to grab what they can of me.  There have too many changes in the past 6 weeks and no doubt, that is playing a role.

It’s been a month now since I closed down my last blog.  For more than three years, that blog was my place to go to vent, to find solace, and to commiserate with people who “knew me.”  While there are a few of you here who have “followed” me over here, I have been afraid to blog openly and candidly about my life like I used to.  I feel like my most powerful outlet is gone.

For those of you who are new to my blogging adventures, let me try to summarize, in vague terms, what happened: I blogged anonymously about my life and everything about me.  I had no identifying information about me, but I guess if you really tried hard and you knew me in real life, you could probably piece it together.  I wouldn’t have cared if people knew who I was, except that I’m a resident physician, so I have to maintain some level of professionalism in my work life.  A few days before I closed my blog, someone I work with wrote a very mean and hurtful comment basically saying that everyone I work with reads my blog and I am damaging my reputation.  More people from work came to read my blog and there was lots of gossip and it was stressful.  So I closed it down.  I haven’t even come close to writing about myself and my life here on this blog because part of me is scared (and a little shell shocked) to reveal anything too personal and identifying.

The “blog discovery” caused me a significant amount of stress at work, because while no one talked to me in person about it, I knew people were talking about it behind my back.  I’m confident that it hasn’t affected my reputation, at least with most of the people I work with, but it’s taken a while to come to that realization.  That whole work environment has been stressful because of this.

On my old blog, I used to have goals that I revisited every month.  I was making great progress on my goals and I think it was because my blog followers kept me accountable.  Needless to say, my goals progress has haulted.  My eating habits, my exercise plans, my efforts at personal time, and even my social and reading time has become obsolete.  That’s been hard.  I feel guilty for letting them slide, but I am also feeling the negative effects of “not taking care of myself.”

Part of my inability to meet my goals has also been due to the fact that my work commitments have changed considerably.  For the last 6 weeks, I have been working an average of 11 hours a day (and more if I am on call).  I have been working almost every second weekend for some portion of the weekend.  I am exhausted when I am at home.  The only thing I have found comfort in is sitting down at the end of the day (usually past 10:30) and watching a few episodes of Parks and Recreation with husband before I fall asleep.  But then I feel like maybe instead of watching TV, I should have gone running…

Anyhow, I have been trying to keep up with the things I enjoy, but it hasn’t been keeping up with me.  I haven’t been running and that makes me sad.  I’m always tired when I am at home with the kids, and that makes me sad too.  I contemplating returning to my anti-anxiety medications that I stopped a few months back, but they are not “safe” in pregnancy… I could try something different, but I really don’t feel like putting my body through that experimentation.

So I wonder, where does that leave me.  How do I work at preventing those dark arms of depression from taking a good, strong hold on me?