I spent hours that day (probably 5 or 6) cleaning up the yard, mulching the garden, shaking remaining leaves off our trees, and taking the trampoline down. The first couple hours I was really proud of myself for all the hard work and the progress I was making. I was even humming, "Have I Done Any Good in the World Today?" as I cleaned some leaves out of my widowed neighbor's window wells. But the more tired I got and the more the kiddos got in my way, the more I started to second guess myself. My brain started up telling me that I wasn't doing a good enough job and that the DH was going to come home and be mad because I didn't do things his way--which is sort of a Pure O obsession for me, these hypothetical arguments in my head and the conviction that my DH is going to hate me forever (which is really all in my head; the DH and his attitude/actions have very little to do with it). The DH and I had a short phone conversation that afternoon which I misinterpreted and used as a fodder for the crazy. I began to be afraid of what was going to happen when he got home and started getting more and more frantic in my efforts to make it so he wouldn't--couldn't--be angry at me. (Hm? What's that you say? I should call my therapist and address this issue? Yeah. I know. I should.)
I had also babysat for a friend all day while she went to the temple. Not to mention it was the day after Halloween and we were all fried from the previous evening's festivities. I was tired.
The big kids came home from school and I had to get Princess N off to Activity Days. I got everyone in the car and made it down to the Church and then zoomed home to finish up the backyard work,do some cleaning inside, and make dinner. Then I remembered there was a writing deadline that I needed to submit something for. And then I realized it was raining, the temperature was dropping, and half the trampoline stuff was strewn all over the backyard.
We got home and I started working as fast as I could. But things just kept going wrong. The trampoline parts were stuck together and when I tried to stack them in the garage they crashed all over and made a huge mess where the DH usually parks his car. I had too many dirty dishes to do before I could cook dinner. The file I needed to submit wasn't on the computer I thought it was and my hands were shaking from anxiety. The kids spilled jelly all over the floor and stickiness on the floor is a pet peeve of the DH and I started to lose it. If I'd been frantic before by the time I had to go back to the Church to pick up Princess N I was in complete panic mode.
Driving home Mr. J started yelling at Supergirl E for "thinking a bad word but not actually saying it" and Supergirl E and Princess N started screaming back. I knew that the DH was home staring at the jelly on the floor and my heart was racing. Traffic was heavy and the kids kept getting louder and louder in the car. My hands were still shaking and my heart was racing. I was convinced we were going to end up in an accident. So I started yelling at the kids. A lot. And then felt very bad and started apologizing.
We got home and the DH was cleaning the jelly off the floor and I was a complete wreck. I demanded he come outside and started yelling at him for being so angry with me. He replied that he wasn't angry and I went into how angry he would have been if I hadn't accused him of being angry. Things spiraled from there as the kids watched from the window.
And then, I kid you not, the Relief Society president pulled up in my driveway. (Hi, Coffinberry!)
Low point, anyone??
She's actually a friend of mine and I appreciate her advice and perspective, but it was still pretty embarrassing. Nobody likes being caught at their worst, even when the people catching you love you.
She helped me calm down enough so that I could stop freaking out and make some dinner. But I spent the rest of the evening fight the crazy in my brain. After yelling at the DH the crazy talk in my brain changed from "the DH will be mad at you and your life will be ruined" to "You don't deserve to live. You are a failure and a waste of space. You need to be punished. A lot. You deserve to suffer and be in pain for the kind of person you are." It was terrible. I was trying not to cry too much, but the urge to punish and harm myself was very strong. I can only think of a handful of times it has been stronger. Of course, the worst part of it is that I could see all of it in my head. Technicolor visions of suicide and self-mutilation. Blech.
I knew I needed to get out of my head. Fast. I focused on dinner and turned on some music, repeating the lyrics in my head while singing them out loud. Anything to put the brakes on the hamster wheel of insanity in my brain. I ended up listening to a Mumford and Sons songs over and over. A couple lines from "The Cave" worked as a sort of mantra, "But I will hold on hope/And I won't let you choke/On the noose around your neck./And I'll find strength in pain./And I will change my ways./I'll know my name as it's called again." The lines were soothing and repeatable and, inexplicably, I associated it with baptism and taking on the name of Christ and I started to calm down.
I got through dinner and bedtime but the urge to punish myself was unrelenting. I had a huge headache but didn't want to take any medicine. I was exhausted but refused to go to bed. I didn't really want to hurt myself but I wanted to do something to make the punishing thoughts go away so I ate Halloween candy until I was sick to my stomach. And I drowned my sorrows in a couple episodes of Friday Night Lights. Another lovely low point to my day.
My sleep that night was troubled and the kids were up several times. Around 3:40 am, I gave up on sleep and decided I could take some medicine, even self-punishment was still heavy on my mind. So I went to the kitchen and took some ibuprofen. Then I stumbled across the Conference issue of the Ensign. I thumbed through it and finally came to Elder Utchdorf's talk, "Forget Me Not." (I keep trying to insert a link here to the actual talk but it's not working; sorry.) My head was still muddled enough that it was hard to feel the Spirit but I knew I needed to read the talk anyway. I think I read it in a frenzied manner several times but the only part that made sense to me was this:
Dear sisters, many of you are endlessly compassionate and patient with the weaknesses of others. Please remember also to be compassionate and patient with yourself. . . Sisters, wherever you are, whatever your circumstances may be, you are not forgotten. No matter how dark your days may seem, no matter how insignificant you may feel, no matter how overshadowed you think you may be, your Heavenly Father has not forgotten you. In fact, He loves you with an infinite love.
It had been a dark day. Overshadowed seemed a good descriptor for my mental state. Patience and compassion with myself sounded foreign but good. I told myself to wait this current bout of crazy out. Give it a day or two and see where things were.
So yesterday was a couple days later. A quick rundown: the wonderful neighbor who usually watches the baby when I have to go help out in kindergarten couldn't watch the baby, the DH forgot he was supposed to drive Mr. J to preschool, I lost my car keys, and a dog peed on my daughter's backpack at the bus stop. Later that day, I got to work on the allergen-free desserts I was supposed to be bringing to our school's Harvest Festival and burned two entire batches. After making an extra trip to the store, I got all the kids in bed and was then up until 11:00 at night finishing up the treats. It was a terrible day. I mean, since when do dogs randomly come up and pee on people's backpacks?? The fact is, though, it all worked out. I didn't lose my temper. I didn't want to hurt myself. I didn't hate myself. I didn't even panic. My family was okay. I was okay. The terrible day was okay. 48 hours after the crazy had reared it's ugly head, I was all right.
I'm still a little emotionally hung over from everything; I'm feeling a little tender and my fuse is short. But it passed. So, I guess I just wanted to pass that on to any of you who read this and might be struggling. No matter how many good days you have, your mood disorder will strike again. BUT, be patient with yourself and remember that God loves you. Wait it out, seek help, and be glad when the RS president shows up during your worst moment. Don't do anything you're going to regret because things will get better! I promise. I've been there and I promise.
p.s. A big thanks to those of you who stop by and tell me that my blog has been helpful to you. Those kinds of comments mean the world to me. I'm not alone--you aren't alone--we are in this together.