Over the last few months, I have been struggling mentally and emotionally. It wasn't until Eddie's behavior began to mirror my own (and not in a good way), that I realized I might have a problem. I saw my doctor and was diagnosed with postpartum depression. My first counseling session helped me realize the damage that this illness was doing. I started taking anti-depressants, which lifted the fog I'd been slogging through and allowed me to start making positive strides again.

As I began learning about depression, I stumbled upon a great book entitled The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. She wrote about a year she spent trying to make her life happier. She wasn't looking to escape from her life, but to be happy while living her life. I found her book inspiring, and it has helped give me some structure as I find areas where I can improve myself. I came up with my own "personal commandments" to help me achieve my goals (in no particular order):

1. Be Kristen.
When my therapist asked "what do you do to get out of the house by yourself?" the only thing I could think of was grocery shopping. I feel like I've lost myself and forgotten who I used to be. So one of my big goals is to discover what I enjoy and find ways to make those things a priority in my life.

2. If you can't make it better, at least don't make it worse.
This comes from the book After the Stork by Sara Rosenquist. Instead of reacting to something in the heat of the moment, I am teaching myself to stop and think before I respond.

3. Don't keep score.
I noticed that in some ways, I was over-estimating my contributions and under-estimating Dave's. But things like housework, childcare, Dave's job can't really be fairly divided and I am learning to stop keeping track.

4. Be present.
I have noticed that if I get down and play with Eddie for 5 minutes, he behaves better all day long. Dave doesn't come home to an angry wife and an attention-starved Eddie every day. Violet is a true joy in my life and I love to just sit and watch her. I don't want to miss anything.

5. If you can't get out of it, get into it.
This applies to teaching Sunbeams and other things that I feel like I should be doing but don't really want to do.

6. Do it now.
The idea here is that if something can be done in one minute or less, you do it immediately instead of putting it off. It is amazing how much more productive this makes me feel.

7. Take time for myself every day.
One thing that counseling has helped me understand is that I need time away from my children, even if it's just a little bit of time. Now that Violet is getting into a nap schedule, I get some free time when Eddie is at preschool twice a week. And Dave is great about giving me time whenever I want it.

8. My body is a temple, not a tent.
Thanks to my new medication, I suddenly have tons of energy, and I am trying to use that energy to exercise more regularly. The past weeks have taught me that if I'm not taking care of myself, I can't really take care of anyone else.

9. Stop seeking validation.
I am trying to do things because I want to, not because I need approval from anyone else. This applies to things I enjoy doing and things that I think need to be done. I used to proudly announce my accomplishments to Dave as soon as he got home from work, but now I realize that I don't need a pat on the back for doing laundry or cleaning the toilet. It's something I want done, so I do it for myself.

10. Remember who is watching.
I am always unpleasantly surprised when I hear Eddie repeat something that I say without thinking. I am trying to be more careful about what I do and say since he sees and hears everything. I want to be a positive influence for my kids and hope that I can show them the right way to live, as well as how to admit when they are wrong.

I plan to work on these goals as much as possible so that I establish some good habits. It is truly amazing how asking for help and setting positive (and reachable) goals has helped me feel like my old self again. Of course, I don't think I could've done it without the medication and without the support and empathy of friends who have gone through similar experiences.


Caitlinp said...

Oh Krissy, thank you so much for writing this and reminding me of some important things I can do for myself and my family. You are such a valuable person. So glad I met you SO many years ago. Here's to being happy. AND your haircut is super super cute.

Alicia said...

Krissy, that is so great that things are going better for you. I have been really worried about you and thinking about you a lot. The goals that you listed for yourself made me look at the things that I can work on as well and the playing for 5 minutes really does make a big difference. You are awesome and your hair looks great!

Kirsten said...

So glad things are going better for you! Love the goals. Pres. Uchtdorf's talk at the RS broadcast really reminded me of this post...you should be a GA ;)

Mila Family said...

Good for you. Cleaning the toilet and doing laundry does deserve a pat on the back especially if it is hard for you to do.

Kristina Carter said...

Thanks for sharing so honestly. I wish I would have known sooner. You are in my thoughts and I may just print out your goals for myself even though I haven't had a baby in 3 years.