I felt discouraged after my counseling appointment yesterday. It wasn’t until later that I realized maybe my discouragement was occurring for exactly the same reason that I feel so overwhelmed and anxious lately and my counselor had literally just explained how to work through those feelings.
Maybe I didn’t feel so much discouraged as I felt extremely challenged. She asked me questions yesterday that I could not answer and it made me feel hopeless and like she didn’t understand me and thought I was really messed up--until I had a sleepless hour this morning thinking about it.
We talked about how I can’t shake the feeling that everyone is always looking at me and judging me—while I didn’t go into the specifics with her, I will here. From day 1 at the hospital, I have felt like everyone looks at me and judges me as not knowing how to be a mother and as fat and disgusting and of course that makes me a horrible mother also. There are a MILLION thoughts that go along with those two basic foundational thoughts.
I felt crazy expressing those feelings. Like how just going for a walk is nerve racking even though no one is even around—I imagine people are watching me and doubting my every move like I am an incompetent mother. Sometimes I want to close the shades because I am convinced all of my neighbors think I am lazy and worthless (and of course a horrible mother). And then you can imagine how trips to the store or to church are so overwhelming because this is my thought process.
It is exhausting. And I know it’s not LOGICAL—but at the same time I cannot control it. The thoughts come and I cannot stop them—and I have believed them. Mental illness is horrible in that way—it’s separate from what you KNOW to be yourself and yet it’s all happening within you and it’s hard to tell the difference because well, they’re your own thoughts—even though you know that you would never think them in your right mind.
So the counselor asked me—if Mrs. Green on the corner is judging you and talking about you, what is the worst that could happen? Why would this be such a horrible thing for people to judge you? And I could not answer that question.
And in my sleepless hour, I realized it’s because I do not have much confidence at all. I don’t have faith in myself. I doubt myself. I question my every choice, action and word. I do not value myself or BELIEVE in myself anymore—and I used to. But this mothering thing has thrown me for a loop and it has affected every single area of my life—and I think that is because of postpartum depression and not because I actually am terrible at mothering—that’s the logical response but not my emotional response which believes that I do not know what I’m doing.
The counselor drew me a Venn diagram with logic on one side and emotion on the other—they intersected with wisdom. Depression makes one think with emotion and we fail to see things logically. But if I begin to acknowledge my emotional thinking and try to bring some logic to the thought, I can begin to change the way that I think.
I have a huge task at hand—HUGE. This is going to be incredibly difficult for me but I have to learn to do it and I know that for a while it will take the help of my hubby and my family to stop me in my tracks and tell me that how I am thinking is too emotional and to help me be logical. But I’ve been thinking/feeling this way for 10.5 months and it will take some time to change that again.
My counselor reminded me that as much as I want there to be, there is not a switch that I can flip and be better again. It’s going to take time. I was pregnant for 9 months and my hormones were naturally out of whack, and now I’ve been living like this for another 10.5 months—it will take time to recover and heal. Not to mention, I need to also find the right medication that makes a difference because the one I’m taking doesn’t seem to be making much of a difference.
So, I guess from here on out it’s “Operation Build Alissa Up”, as silly as that sounds. It’s time to build my confidence as a mother and as a person in every facet of my life.