Thursday, February 10, 2011

4:30 AM (or Early Morning Musings on Viruses and Emotional Styles)

It is actually 4:30 in the morning. And I am actually blogging. Not because I am an early riser. No, my baby is sitting on the floor fussing intermittently and playing with some toys. She gave up sleeping about a week ago so I have too. Sometime during the crazy that came after Mr. J was born I gave up sitting in dark rooms trying to rock calm an uber-fussy baby back to sleep. It makes me nuts so I come out and let them sit and play for awhile and then take them back in their rooms and go through the bedtime routine to get the child back to sleep. Hence the blogging.

The Little Cannoli and her brother, Mr. J (who is now three and a half years old; I sure do need to update my sidebar pic!), both have RSV (see above pic!) and I have spent the last week not sleeping. The three of us are miserable. I finally lost it this afternoon. Crazy Mommy reemerged with her volatile yelling and intrusive thoughts and intermittent bouts of crying. Within this haze of fatigue, steamy treaments (you know, when you turn on the shower and the sink as hot as they'll go and sit in the bathroom waiting for the coughing to subside), and doctor visits a single thought has emerged: I am an emotional endurer. (BTW, for some good practical advice on RSV check out this website.)

Now this emotional style isn't one of Oprah's easily identifiable ones. In fact I wonder if this isn't a particularly Mormon emotional style. I think int might come from the Mormon idea that if we just stick things out long enough we'll eventually get some blessing out of all the difficulties that surrounds us. We like to call this enduring to the end. But just like so many of us mistake spiritually enduring to the end for simply suffering through stuff, emotional endurance can get skewed too.

I'm not being very clear here. I think I should back up a little.

This quotation from Elder Wirthlin (Oh, how I loved his talks!) sums up spiritual endurance nicely. He says,
The question “Why me?” can be a difficult one to answer and often leads to frustration and despair. There is a better question to ask ourselves. That question is “What could I learn from this experience?” . . .The gospel of Jesus Christ includes enduring to the end as one of its bedrock doctrines. Jesus taught, “He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” And, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed.” Some think of enduring to the end as simply suffering through challenges. It is so much more than that—it is the process of coming unto Christ and being perfected in Him. . .Enduring to the end means that we have planted our lives firmly on gospel soil, staying in the mainstream of the Church, humbly serving our fellow men, living Christlike lives, and keeping our covenants. Those who endure are balanced, consistent, humble, constantly improving, and without guile. Their testimony is not based on worldly reasons—it is based on truth, knowledge, experience, and the Spirit.
See? Enduring to the end isn't actually about suffering; it's about staying true to ourselves, our covenants, and our God.

Likewise, emotional endurance shouldn't be just about powering through hard times. I had a lot of signs that my breakdown this afternoon was coming. I knew I was tired and I knew that tired=crazy for me. Fatigue makes my brain slippery and I fall back into all those old depressed habits very easily. But instead of listening to my inner voice and slowing down during this time of turbulence, I told myself I was going to emotionally endure this now matter what--and I kept telling myself that until I couldn't endure any longer, my emotions became unmanageable, and I fell apart. This faulty emotional endurance is very much like a virus that I keep getting infected with whenever life gets tough.

I think a better emotional style might be emotionally resilient. My spur-of-the-moment, 4:30 am definition of this is that I would be aware of those little warning signs that some crazy was coming down the pipe. I would be okay with cutting out the peripheral stuff, allow myself to feel whatever manageable frustrations I'm feeling, and remind myself that eventually I will not feel this way and things will get better. That way I wouldn't have to power through so much and wouldn't end up on the road to Breakdown-ville.

I remember early on during my therapy days my therapist telling me that the point of therapy was not to bail me out when I was at my wit's end but to teach me how to avoid getting there in the first place. That's what I'm talking about. I think it was something I was pretty close to after my struggles of winter 2009. It's the emotional style I need to reclaim.

Well, it's now been half and hour and hopefully the Little Cannoli is ready to sleep again. I'm certainly ready to! But, if you feel so inclined, tell me what your emotional style is. Are you an endurer/power-through-it-at-all-costs kind of person or are you something else?


Mindy said...

Hi, Laura. :) I like that quote from Elder Wirthin. It always reminds me that regardless of our trials (whether it is your diagnosis or me being 29 and still single), while they differ extremely we are still being challenged in the same way. Our faith and obedience are being tested. And that's what every trial comes down to. Will we continue to have faith and obey in those dark moments? Good reminder. I hope you end up getting some sleep today!

Valerie said...

I like the talk you posted. I haven't ever seen/heard it before and I could sure use it now.

I like when you update. You are one of the few PPD blogs I enjoy reading and you are only 1 active PPD Mormon Mom blogger right now.

I don't know what emotional styles I can pick from to say what I am. :/

Is there a "give up and sit on the couch surfing the internet for the rest of the day" emotional style?

jk Mostly. haha

Lily said...

Thank YOU!!! It's 2am right now and I read this entry and it just makes me very grateful. I appreciate that someone is going through the same thing as me. I admit it can get pretty blurry when you are up @ 3am nursing and your 5 year old is screaming because he wet the bed waking up the 2 & 3 year old down the hall. Through all that screaming and chaos, it's hard to ask yourself,"What can I learn from this?" It's just easier to pretty much give in to either anger, resentment, or some non-productive state of being. At least that's what Satan would have us believe. I love the quote,"Enduring to the end means that we have planted our lives firmly on gospel soil" We shouldn't look at our lives as "suffering" through it. All Mothers go through that Supermom phase until it becomes all too much.I am definitely an endurer/power-through-it-at-all-costs kind of person. Hope to read more from you! Thanks for this entry.

Anonymous said...

Hi! I just started a blog that also talks about my battle with depression and my hubby found yours as he was searching for mine. I will be sure to follow you regularly for tips and helps! Thanks for starting such an upbeat and positive blog.