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Struggling with the Blues

I ask myself all the time, when will it finally end?, this constant battle with postpartum depression. It can be so frustrating when you finally have a couple good weeks only to be followed by a couple bad. I think only those who have struggled with any kind of depression can truly understand what it is like. 

I often find myself wondering after the end of a truly troubling day how I got through it. How is this affecting my children. They are fed, the are loved, they are cared for everyday. However, they have a mom that may not be as engaged as she otherwise is. The house is typically less put together. It is all to easy to be overcome by guilt and than paralyzed into inactivity. I have faced some truly hard things in my life. It is fair to say that life has never been very easy. Easier than some but still fraught with it’s share of trouble. When will it end?

I recently Googled how long before postpartum depression goes away. Not surprisingly there was no straight answer. I know that there are things that I can do to help, rest, good nutrition,and exercise outside. leaving the house is key but even that can seem unbearable some days.

It has been two weeks already since my last blog and that disappoints me as I wish to blog once a week. However, it is what it is right now and that has to no OK. Being kid to myself is a big thing. When I am in my good days I often find myself being concerned and worried about the next set of bad days. This last time I tried to just focus and be grateful for the good days. I would like to think this helped me enjoy them more. I have also been through this enough to know that the good days come again.

So fellow bloggers and followers I apologize that this entry is not more glitzy, that it contains no links, or cool information. This is we checking in and keeping it real.

Till next time ūüôā

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Just For Today

Just for today I will try to live through this day only, and not tackle all my problems at once…

The other Morning I woke up with the usual anxiety fed by fear where depression lurks around the edges just waiting to settle in. On top of that I woke before 4am tossing and turning while my little’s slept! Seriously what is with that. Thoughts regarding my husband, not nice ones, where starting to stride through my foggy brain. Shaking them off I grabbed my phone and ended up reading a blog by Madeline Bialecki titled  A New Perspective. Her Blog challenged me to remember to change my perspective by inviting God and asking how he would see a person or a situation. The article also reminded me to remember that I too have sinned and God has forgiven and loves me.  You can read more of Madelines article here A New Perspective.

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I was still feeling grumpy and anxious as I got up to make coffee with my little’s in tow tugging and pulling and making their own demands of me causing my grumpies to settle in deeper. After I got their breakfast and my much needed shot of Java I opened up my devotional to Mondays reading. You will never guess what it was titled.  The Proper Perspective. At this point I am starting to think that perhaps God is trying to tell me something.  One of the lines in the devotional said ‘…we are here to exhibit only one thing-the “captivity [of our lives] to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5)’ (My Utmost for His Highest, updated version, 1995, Oswald Chambers, edited  by James Reiman.).

Remember now I was feeling grumpy and agitated with my husband and my world. It is not my nature to be the quiet and meek woman that God calls us to be. I tend to be more the in your face, stand on my rights, offended kind of woman. In the privacy of my home. Yikes, I know.  I have recently been convicted in my heart regarding my attitude, my actions, and my conduct towards my husband. I am raising children that I want to show Godliness in all situations. I do not wish to be the woman that causes my husband to be better off on the corner of the roof. I also do not want to raise children that disrespect their father due to my actions and attitudes towards him.  I am and I have often been that woman. I have recently determined to be different, to be kinder, to be meeker, to have a gentle answer, and in all things to show love.  If any of you have tried this you know that this is so much harder than it seems and that, failure is all to often your bed partner.  I so often determine to be better and the next thing you know I am reacting the same way that I always do.  However, on Monday morning before I had even had the chance to delve deeply into my anxieties and fears, my grumpies, I was given two reminders about my perspective in that moment.

I could choose to continue to see my husband and my life through my eyes and my perspective. Yes I could do that and typically do that very well. I could also choose to see my husband and the situation through God’s eyes and God’s perspective.  For that day and in that moment I choose to do the latter.  I am thankful that I made that choice. It put me into a better position to receive the bad news that my husband gave me latter that day. Oh the same old accusations ran through my head, the same old lines that lead to arguments, hurt feelings, frustrations, and words when spoken end in disaster.  However, I was able to hold my tongue that day and keep a proper perspective. This allowed for more peace in my home and amazingly this also calmed my anxieties and kept my depression away.

Lao Tzu said “If you are depressed you are living in the past; if you are anxious you are living in the future; If you are at peace you are living in the present.”. Having struggled with Postpartum depression peace is something that I hope for and I have found that being mindful and living in the moment has helped a great deal.  Perspective and how we choose to see things and the thoughts we allow to stay in our minds can really impact our mood.

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I was recently given this poem Just For Today.  I love it and I have found myself pulling it out often just to read it as a reminder to stay focused just on today. I wanted to include it as it is where the original idea for this blog came from. You may read the poem here Just For Today. I must admit that today’s blog has taken a different direction than I had first envisioned.

I myself will remember that just for today I will try to live through this day only and not tackle all my problems at once (Just For Today, Al-Anon Family Groups, n.d.).

I desire peace in my mind and I desire to change how I respond towards my husband and life in general. Recently I have found that by keeping my perspective Christlike I am better able to respond in a more positive way towards my husband. I have been less of the contentious woman that I do not wish to be and more of the loving wife I desire to be. I am still under construction to be sure. All I can do is keep trying to refine my character and to show kindness to myself when I fail.  I have also found that keeping my thoughts focused in the moment and not beyond that day has helped me to be less anxious and depressed. Today I am grateful for those things.

Thank-you for reading my Blog today. I invite you to come back and read my next one. I hope everyone enjoys peace in their minds today.

 

 

 

The Screen Time Challenge

How often have I sat on my phone checking emails or facebook while the t.v. is on Tree House? Feeling the guilt that comes sooner or later to many moms that have a digital screen or T.V in their home. As mom’s who live in a digital world there is much to feel guilty about. We are almost harassed with conflicting opinions from the experts that we google; pictures on our friends facebooks of perfectly kept homes and happily crafting children; and not to mention all the expert advice that gets handed to us from our mothers and grandmothers.

How often have I sat on my phone checking emails or facebook while the t.v. is on Tree House? Feeling the guilt that comes sooner or later to many moms that have a digital screen or T.V in their home. As mom’s who live in a digital world there is much to feel guilty about. We are almost harassed with conflicting opinions from the experts that we google; pictures on our friends facebooks of perfectly kept homes and happily crafting children; and not to mention all the expert advice that gets handed to us from our mothers and grandmothers. Egad is it any wonder than that we find ourselves in a heaping, blubbering, snot covered mess at the end of the day convinced that we are destroying our children. Sobbing because we are worst mother in the world (all because we let little Joey have a cheezie while leaving him in his pajamas all day with Tree House on) ¬†to our startled and confused husband. ¬†This has been me on more days than I care to admit.

THE SCREEN TIME CHALLENGE

Since the birth of my last son I have been on an intimate journey with Postpartum Depression. In the not to distant past this has often led to the cheezie, Tree House, and blubbering mess at the end of the day kinda days. Okay maybe not always a blubbering mess but certainly feeling really blah and sad and unmotivated by days end. I would obsess about the amount of screen time I was allowing my toddler and how this would negatively impact her life. I would feel sad about the lack of ‘things'(reading stories, building blocks, coloring, tickle time, ect.)that I was offering her without distraction. Worse I would spend hours berating myself about all that I had not accomplished and how I was such a terrible mother and wife. This was the constant cycle of my day. Television-inactivity-guilt-sadness-self-condemnation-blubbering mess-wake up and do it all again.

Before you start casting stones let me give you some more insight. Our youngest son was born early. He spent time in NICU away from us. A blessedly short time of five days but it certainly felt like an eternity. I truly believe that as a result of his birth story the natural attachment and bonding between parents and child was disrupted. I also feel that all the necessary poking and prodding that left him bruised for days after coming home affected him. Call me crazy and silly but this is what I believe to be truth for my little guy. His experience resulted in a very clingy baby that needed to be swaddled and held almost 24/7 and this experience lasted for many months. Than add to that my struggle with postpartum depression and WHAM a perfect recipe for too much screen time and a mamma who was a mess and exhausted at then end of the day.

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image via BrainyQuote

I wanted to change. I needed to change. I felt overwhelmed and powerless to change. I desired to be like the woman in Proverbs 31: 27 (NIV) where it says that she watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. I felt Idle and I was.

Where does one even start the process of change?  How does one make progress towards change?  I believe that change starts in the heart. The desire to change alone can be a powerful motivator and that is where it started for me. I cried out in my heart and prayed for the strength to change.   The change did not happen over night nor can I promise that it will last forever. Change for me started with a plan. What did I want my days to look like? I wrote it down in the format of a daily schedule and I hung that schedule on my refrigerator.  Some days I followed my schedule and some days I did not. I also challenged myself.

I challenged myself to turn the screens off more often. That is it. That is my Screen Time Challenge.  Less screen time and more activities.  This can include any digital device.

How much screen time is to much? Here is a link to an interesting article I read recently AAP digital guidelines

HOW THE CHALLENGE HAS IMPACTED MY LIFE

I have been changed by this challenge. My toddler has been changed by this challenge. I would like to believe that the tone of my home has been changed by this challenge and at the very least that my husband has been impacted.

Toddler

Some of the changes that I have seen in my toddler are that she is much less mischievous. I used to spend so much time exasperated with her for touching stuff that was not hers, wreaking stuff regardless of who it belonged to and chasing behind her as she undid whatever efforts that I was able to make with my housework. It was so frustrating. Nowadays I am seeing a much less mischievous girl as we spend more time doing activities that help to engage her curious mind. Idleness it would seem breeds chaos even for the little ones in our lives.

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Myself

I read this interesting thing today. I was curious to see if there have been any links between depression and the amount of screen time.  What I discovered is that there are several studies that have been done in recent years. It is a which came first the chicken or the egg kinda thing. In other words studies have been done that do indeed link the amount of screen time watched to depression, low self esteem, and sleep troubles, however, more research needs to be conducted to see if depression precedes amount of screen time or if the amount of screen time leads to depression.

You can read more on this topic by visiting this link Binge TV

For me I have certainly noticed that I feel less sad, less gloomy, and see less of that dark and heavy cloud that has followed me around for the last several months.  I am much more joyful and productive. This productivity seems to have bred more productivity.  I have been enjoying my littles more. I have more time to do other things such as write this blog. The long and short of it is I have less blubbering mess at the end of the day kinda days and more I had a good day kinda days. Last night I even had time to shower alone, wash my hair, shave my legs AND pamper my feet a little. WooHoo go me!

Philippians 4:8-9 (NKJV) says that we are to meditate on things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, virtuous, praiseworthy, and of good report. Verse 9 goes onto say that the things that we have seen, received, and learned in Christ we are to do. The verse ends with a beautiful promise that Gods peace will be with us. I have more time to meditate and focus my mind on the positives and good things in my life. I have had more peace and less anxiety and stinking thinking recently. More peace than I have had in a very long time.

The Tone of My Home

I would like to think that the tone of my home is more joyous. The littles and I spend time singing praise songs, singing nursery rhymes, laughing, and being just plain silly. My home is certainly cleaner. I have even managed to wash, dry, fold, and put away laundry a few times! This is a great improvement on my normal system of wash, dry, and place in the laundry basket praying that the laundry fairy will come and fold and put away said laundry. This has yet to happen by the way. The laundry fairy that is.

 

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My Husband

Last but certainly not least is my husband. I would like to think that less screen time in our home has had a positive impact upon my husband.  He has not come out and said, Hey I see you have the t.v. on less and boy are things better, no he has not said that.  He has however said things like, I notice that little projects are getting done around the house, or , I really appreciate all you do around here, or even, you are really giddy and I love it.  What better evidence do I have of the positive impact of less screen time than the very fact my husband is showering me with praise and compliments. I am truly blessed.

 

 

CONCLUSION

The Screen Time Challenge did not happen overnight. I certainly don’t get it right everyday. I try not to put that kind of pressure on myself anyways. Postpartum depression is an awful struggle and the best things we can do as moms is to be kind to ourselves in our judgments. We do have less screen time in our home and it has had a positive impact on us all. ¬†I would encourage anyone who has felt like I have to try The Screen Time Challenge for even just one week and see what things you notice. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Thanks for reading

Stay tuned for my next post Just For Today.

 

 

 

Why Blog?

It is that time of day in our home. Yup, it is bath time and yet here I sit at my kitchen table wondering why I ever thought that writing a blog would be fun. I am hours into my new blog after months of thought, days of research, and hours of prep work and I am already frustrated and feel like I am swimming in a murky pond where my vision is unclear. However, I started this journey and I intend to finish.

It is that time of day in our home. Yup, it is bath time and yet here I sit at my kitchen table wondering why I ever thought that writing a blog would be fun. I am hours into my new blog after months of thought, days of research, and hours of prep work and I am already frustrated and feel like I am swimming in a murky pond where my vision is unclear. However, I started this journey and I intend to finish.

Why do I want to blog? I suppose in a world where I am a human burp cloth who is covered in snot surrounded by laundry, dirty dishes, and an endless to do list, well, I suppose that I wish to remember that I am something more. I am more than meal prep, yoga pants, messy buns, and laundry. I am more than wife, mother, teacher, companion, helpmeet, and endless tasks. I am much more. I am also me.
I am Charmaine.

I want to write a blog that engages the part of me that is creative, curious, and often confounded. Life is messy. I am as lost as you as I muddle through being a helpmeet, a mother, and a homemaker.

What topics do I wish to explore? I wish to explore topics that interest me as a mother and as a wife. I desire to bring clarity to topics that confound me. I hope to discuss topics that interest other women out there and to engage in some informative conversations.

I plan to post my second blog within the next several days. The blog title is The Screen Time Challenge. Recently I challenged myself regarding the screen time in our home and I have discovered some interesting things. I am looking forward to sharing them with you all.

This is such a new experience for me and I fully anticipate a learning curve. By no means will perfection abound. Life is perfectly messy. I am no expert on any given topic. I am simply a woman like you looking to explore, navigate, enjoy, laugh, and grow in my knowledge and experience. I am thankful for those who follow my blog and who continue to laugh with me as I navigate this grand new frontier.

Tune in in the next few days as we talk about The Screen Time Challenge.

Happy Reading

Charmaine

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