It’s all a balancing act

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image of a person walking a tightrope strung between two cliffs, set against a sunset. emotional balance, struggle.

A few weeks ago…maybe longer…???? I don’t know and I’m too lazy to look, but I’d blogged that I was finally starting to see daylight after this bitch of a fight I’ve had with my depression.

I’m trying to be more aware of…stuff, because there were probably things I could have done earlier on that might have kept things from being as bad as they got. Well, maybe there were things I could have done.

I knew back when things got bad that I needed to be seeing a counselor, but it was a toss-up between making sure my youngest could keep seeing her counselor, then getting my son into see somebody after shit got bad with him…and me. We weren’t all going to get what we needed and the kids always come first.

There were…certain family problems, not with my husband or kids, but on my side of the family that complicated & exacerbated all the grief we were all dealing with from losing my brother and it was affecting my family, my kids, relationships that had existed for decades.

None of these problems were new, of course. Things like this don’t pop up over night, right? They never do.

Arrogant me, though… I’d always assumed I’d dealt with them–or at least I was handling them. On my own, because that’s what I do. I talked to a few people, yeah, including my preacher and a couple of close friends, but never regularly, and I never reached out until I was at the very point of breaking.

It’s no wonder I ended up in a place where I didn’t think there wasn’t an escape from.

Folks…don’t be like me. Don’t let yourself get so far lost that you aren’t sure you can find your way back. The only steadying, guiding influences I had were faith and my husband and kids, and sometimes, even though I knew they were always there, even that didn’t seem like enough. That’s not on them, either. That’s depression. That ugly lying bitch, and it’s because of that ugly lying bitch that I talk about this stuff. People need to hear it. Even when I felt lost, alone, like nothing mattered, most especially me, there were people who cared. If you’re in that place, if you’ve been to that place, if you ever find yourself in that place, remember this… people care and you matter.

I’m stable again after what felt like too long down in that hole and with that stability comes clarity, something I’ve lacked for several years, thanks to depression.

You can give too much of yourself, no matter who you are and find yourself running on empty.

Even with the best of intentions, even knowing there is a need. But when you’re struggling with emotional & mental health issues on top of everything else, it can be a real danger. If you give all of yourself and end up in that pit of self-doubt and emptiness, then you aren’t able to give what you need to those who need you the most, when they need you the most, and you can’t be your best for them at any point in time.

You can find yourself doing the things you never wanted to do–failing them. Not through any intentional neglect or desire to harm, but because you just hit empty and there’s nothing left.

Up until the past few months, I always figured I could balance, could juggle… if I didn’t deal with my issues, it didn’t matter, as long as my kids, my husband, those who needed me were being cared for, right? That’s a stupid way of thinking because I am hugely responsible for taking care of them, especially my kids.

This is something we–I’m talking about moms here–it’s something we suck at, taking care of ourselves.

So I told myself I’d commit to getting better at. I told my husband that I was finally feeling stable again…then I told him I thought it was time I see a therapist. Weird, really. I feel stronger than I have in a couple of years, and for the first time in my very messed-up life, I decide I’m going to see a therapist. Not just to talk about the past few years, losing my brother and all of that, but from all the crap I’ve never dealt with from my childhood on up.

I think he’s relieved, and he knows it’s something I needed to do, but nobody can tell me to do something. I have to figure it out on my own.

I spent a few weeks hem-hawing about the decision and finally made the appointment last week. I couldn’t do it, or so I tell myself, any sooner, because I was trying to help my father-in-law handle things after he had some rather urgent health issues pop up, and during that time, other things became glaringly obvious, which I’ll get to…it’s that balancing act.

So…as is typical for my life–or rather, my family’s life…I think it’s a murphy’s law thing, really.

Right as we start to get things smoothed out? BAM! LOL, really, and thank God, all in one, because a few months ago, I think I might have spent a month whimpering in my room if this had all hit then.

My father-in-law was hovering on the edge of a massive heart attack, with a 70% occlusion of one of the main arteries of his heart and had to have a stent–none of this would have been discovered if he hadn’t gone into the doctor’s office, thinking he had an appointment when he didn’t. When he mentioned he was having trouble breathing and chest pain, they sent him to the ER and he’s undergoing an emergency cath the next day.

I’m the person on call–there’s not much family, just my guy, his mom, and his brother. His brother had a stroke a few years ago and there are other things going on that I’ll get to. Needless to say, I’m the one helping with talking to doctors, fielding questions, etc. I mean, what’s the point of having a nurse in the family?.

He has to spend a few days in the hospital and during this time, something I’ve suspected for a while becomes glaringly apparent. My guy’s mom has been showing signs of dementia. Things like this become more obvious if a routine is upset, or if the person is upset or worried.

I can’t imagine how upsetting or disrupting it would be to have my husband in the hospital,, dealing with a cardiac issue that could have ended in a massive heart attack, but I imagine it would be pretty bad.

Now…how in the hell do you tell a man that his wife needs to get see when he’s trying to recover from a serious cardiac issue?

Balancing act.

The guy’s work schedule doesn’t allow for much time off outside of already scheduled days and emergencies, so we have to tightrope it and gauge things until his dad is out of the hospital, and stable, then we talk to him.

We have to wait a bit before we can do anything, because again, he has to be cleared healthwise. This all happened in the past few weeks and last week, just as I finally decided I was going to see about setting an appointment for me to see a counselor, things get a little more erratic with his mom. So…appointment there has to be escalated.

Balancing act. Take time to breath.

Saturday…

Wow. Saturday.

This past Saturday is proof positive that I’m not yet a stark-raving lunatic.

For those who don’t know, my son is a junior in high school and attends an on-campus school a few hours north of where I live. My oldest also attended this school. It’s amazing, a public high school, but it’s geared toward gifted and talented students who don’t get enough challenge at their local high schools. It’s also an exercise in trust and faith, because…hello, we’re letting our babies sail out of the nests two years early… to a limited extent. He comes home on weekends once a month and in the end, he’ll graduate with an associates degree and likely scholarships opportunities out the wazoo, but he’s also living far away from home.

That can be scary as hell. Especially when you get a phone call from the front desk of his dormitory… Is this XXXX? XXXX was out riding his bike and he was hit by a car. HE IS OKAY…

It wouldn’t have mattered if they’d prefaced it with those words–HE IS OKAY. Just the words, out riding his bike and he was hit by a car pretty much flattened me.

Yes, he is okay, although Saturday is a blur. He’d ridden his bike to take the SAT. On his way back, he was hit by a car. Right now, things are still up in the air, because he had to go the ER so I can’t say much about it, in case I have to get a lawyer involved, but aside from his bike being trashed, him being sore and me losing a few years off my life…well, it could have been worse.

Balancing act.

I lost most of Monday researching lawyers at the advice a friend of mine, then talking to the insurance folks, lost more time Tuesday to it. Work comes sporadically on days on this, but I figured by Wednesday, things would settle down. He’s sore, but he’s doing okay, and that’s all that matters. Things can settle.

And then the guy tells me his mom has been given a preliminary diagnosis, of sorts, of dementia. Yeah, I was expecting it, but expecting it and hearing it…two different things. And it’s now reality for him. He knew I’d thought it was coming, but it sets in now, for real.

And now the balancing act continues and it’s two of us on the tightrope now.

You have to know when to take a break, to take a breather. Tip too far to one side and it’s a long, long way down. And the hard truth is, if you hit too hard, it may be almost impossible to get back up once you crash.

This entire month is going to be a balancing act for me. Come the end of the month, it will be two years since my brother took his life.

It will also be almost two years since I had any contact with just about anybody else in my family, save for D’s wife and a couple of his kids, my mom and my dad.

It’s awful how the loss of a loved one can be so divisive, how it can tear a family apart. I honored a promise I made to D and it cost me almost all the family I have. I don’t regret it. I made a promise and did what I knew was right. But it does hurt. Sometimes it makes me angry.

That’s another balancing act. Learning how to live with the pain, while letting go of the anger…and learning how to not blame yourself.

It’s all a work in progress, too.

It’s okay to be angry. We all know that.

And it’s okay to let the anger go, because it can tear you up inside. Sometimes we forget that.

Forgiving is good, because holding things inside tears us up. But forgiving doesn’t mean we’re required to forget the hurts done to us, even hurts done to us by those who are supposed to love us. Forgiving doesn’t mean opening a door for them to hurt us again, either.

Balancing act.

Life is all about balance, really.

When you live a life with depression, it’s even more crucial to know the importance of balance…and sometimes that balancing comes via cutting people out, taking time for yourself and just letting things go.