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24 Hours in the Mind of a Mom With Anxiety and Depression

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12:36 am: My eyes flutter open. I have to pee. I stumble to the bathroom in the dark, not bothering with any light, and then feel my way back to bed. I lay down, I wait. I try to breathe, slowly, purposefully, willing myself back to sleep, but the thoughts creep in. I’m so tired, but I can’t shut my brain off. It starts firing off all of these little things that happened today, like when I accidentally texted my boss when I meant to text my husband. Ping. I forgot to put together the new member packages that were supposed to go out today. Pong. I yelled at my kids (a lot) to get them out of the house this morning. Ping. I didn’t get them to swim practice or tennis lessons because I just couldn’t get it together to get them out of the house in time. Pong. And so it goes, until it feels like my whole head is filled with little plastic balls bouncing back and forth, with no order or reason. I drift back to sleep at some point.

2:14 am: Awake again. Roll over. Repeat a mantra of “shut up” over and over until I doze off.

3:23 am: Still dark.

4:24 am: I know I only have a half hour before my spouse’s alarm goes off. I just lay and wait. Maybe I close my eyes.

5 am: Static. Radio not quite tuned in. I know how that feels.

5:35 am: Spouse kisses me goodbye and leaves to catch his 6:23 train. I lay in bed. I think about getting up. It takes an hour to will myself out. The blanket is made of lead, and my legs are encased in concrete. In my head, I wonder why I bother doing this every day, even though I know why. It’s for the two small people sleeping in the other bedrooms. They depend on me, even though I’m only half here.

6:40 am: Start the coffee. Check both email accounts. Scroll through Facebook, while feeling simultaneously full of love and empathy for the things my friends share, and at the same time emptiness, because I can’t find those feelings for myself. I know it’s only social media, and everyone (including myself) is putting on an act for the world. I sigh and put the phone down. I flick on the news. My blood pressure rises because of whatever terrible thing is happening locally, globally, in the omniverse or in my backyard.

7:10 am: I wrangle the kids out of bed and stand in the hallway between their rooms telling them to get dressed and come down for breakfast. They make bowls of cereal. Once they are eating, I go upstairs and maybe shower. I get dressed, usually in two or three different outfits, because I hate the way I look. I’m overweight and out of shape, as a factor of not having time or motivation to find time to exercise, and also taking three different meds to manage my anxiety and depression, two of which have weight gain as a known side effect. And I think to myself, what’s even the point of my doing this? These meds. I still feel empty. And not particularly hopeful… though not entirely hopeless… so they’re working? Three different meds and therapy three times weekly for the last three months, and this is the best I get to feel? Seriously. What. Is. The. Point. I try to convince myself that one day it won’t feel like this.

8:10 am: I’m yelling. The kids are yelling. We have to leave for the bus stop in 15 minutes and no one is even close to ready. They haven’t brushed teeth. They can’t find shoes. They haven’t charged their laptops. They need their violins. Water bottles. Lunches. Snacks. Library books. Gym clothes. Headphones. Papers I never signed.

8:30 am: The kids get on the bus. I exhale. I walk the dog home, pour some coffee in a travel mug and head to work without breakfast.

10 am: Department meeting. I struggle to come up with a list of things I’m working on and where I am with ongoing projects. I am unsuccessful. I excuse myself to the restroom and take a few deep breaths to remind myself that nothing here is on fire. I return to the meeting, and eventually we head back to work, me feeling inadequate as ever.

12:30 pm: I go upstairs with co-workers for lunch, and I try to engage in conversation, but I feel like the world is swirling on around me, and I’m not really part of it. I finish my lunch and head back to my office while everyone else lingers over their meal and chats.

3:30 pm: I leave work, knowing I have 20 minutes before I need to be at the bus stop.

3:55 pm: The bus arrives. Unpacking backpacks. Snacks. Play time. Homework. Screen time. Dinner, or something resembling dinner. Soccer. Swim practice. Dishes to be done. Laundry to be folded. Everything is a mess and I wander aimlessly trying to tidy up just enough so I’m not embarrassed if someone rings the doorbell.

7:45 pm: Back home. Laundry goes in the dryer. Kids get in pjs and watch TV. Spouse returns from work. He tries to cobble together a meal from whatever is in the fridge. I feel guilty, because he’s been on the go for 14 hours, and even though I’ve been on the run for nearly as long, my time doesn’t feel important. I’m not important. When my therapist asks what I’m doing for self-care, I literally laugh in her face. I don’t even know what I would do with myself if I could get out of my own head long enough to do anything.

9 pm: Kids are in bed. Spouse and I are on the couch. I have no energy nor desire to chat about my day, or his day. I’m done.

10 pm: I crawl into bed, pull the blanket over my head and wait for sleep, which comes rather easily at the onset of the night.

11:58 pm: My eyes flutter open. I stare at the ceiling, thoughts ruminating. And one day goes into the next.

If you can relate, you’re not alone. Let Miriam know in the comments below. 

Photo by Kinga Cichewicz on Unsplash

Originally published: January 29, 2020
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