Are you coping?
It’s not really a question you get asked often, nor is it a question you often answer truthfully, we want life to run smoothly, to be easy, to even appear like we have our shit together when underneath things are slipping.
I remember when I was a first time mum with a newborn I would get asked that question and respond in detail about the difficulty of feeding, not sleeping, trying to feed myself, trying to manage a household etc. etc. and you would have time, with a newborn sleeping in your arms to share your stories with fellow parents, chat amongst your mothers group about the highs and lows and generally talk through a lot of what was going on around you. Skip to your second child, far beyond the newborn phase, toddler running laps around you and babe clawing at your legs whilst the toddler demands, scrap that, SCREAMS about wanting something they know is out of bounds. Who has time to answer a question without being yelled at by their own children? How can you complete a sentence with two pint sized power ranges with lungs like hyena’s? Who has time to sit down over a (hot) cup of tea and discuss the ins and outs of no sleep, juggling a household, working, teething, viruses, feeding your children let alone yourself, relationships, even how big that bloody never ending, soul destroying pile of washing is.
I’m running on empty, and I know I’m frazzled and about to fall apart if I don’t just. STOP. and take a good hard look at what I can do to improve my self care. I know there are things that can pull me back on track, I’m aware of what they are but until today I hadn’t put them all out on the table and admitted what is wrong and what I can do change it.
About 4 months ago I lost my Uncle, suddenly and traumatically. It’s affected me more than I could have imagined and I think just assuming I had dealt with it and needed to push on with my day to day has made it worse. I need to talk more openly about everything that happened, and the memories I have to help me move on.
I generally don’t sleep, I have a baby that wakes every three hours and a toddler with night terrors, if I’m lucky I get a few nights a week where I get 2 x 2.5hrs sleep blocks. I have two young children (2 and under) that share a room (yes this is my choice, the third bedroom is on the other end of the house) and whilst it’s lovely to have them so close to us and I know they love their time together, it has meant that their sleep behaviour wakes each other and sleep training my babe has been nearly impossible in fear of waking up my toddler and having two children to deal with. So whilst I don’t sleep much, when I do it isn’t deep sleep, so I dream A LOT. Those dreams for the last 4 months have been haunting me, memories, nightmares, wild and vivid dreams that feature my recently passed Uncle and I wake in an emotional state not knowing the difference between reality and dream.
My emotions to do with my Uncle and my day to day aren’t level and I believe it has a lot to do with my lack of sleep. I know with a newborn I felt you just needed one good night’s sleep every three or four days and you would bounce back. Simple tasks wouldn’t be so much of a strain, you could handle constructive discussions/disagreements with your toddler, partner, friend (anyone), you wouldn’t look for the many reasons to doubt yourself day in, day out. But in the last 12 months I can honestly count the number of good sleeps I’ve had on my two hands. That’s 365 days and nights of pushing myself and rarely finding relief and now my body is starting to show the signs and cracks. Sleep training is what I’ve spent the last week researching because I know it’s a key to helping align myself, my mind and my body.
I work and honestly LOVE working, it’s something that energises my brain and gives me motivation and inspiration. But, it’s hard to work when you can’t remember a conversation you had literally two minutes ago. When your vocabulary disappears and you string sentences along like a version of your prepubescent self. I know being a busy (barely sleeping) mum that my memory may never be what it once was, but at this stage with sleep deprivation I am even forgetting about the messages I write in biro on my hand.
My body is telling me things aren’t working, psoriasis has covered me, this hasn’t happened since my parents separated 8 years ago and I was left trying to pick up the pieces. Any part of my skin that hasn’t seen sun is itchy, bleeding and irritated. I’m on medication and have a light treatment plan I have to stick to to get on top of it.
I need more pep in my step, I’ve cut most added sugar from my diet for some time now and watch what other foods affect my energy and mood. I’m beyond drinking three cups of coffee a day to bring me energy, more than one coffee sends my anxiety into overdrive.
So here I am, knowing my problems, knowing a workable solution to each of them but not actually having given myself a chance to verbalise all of this until today when I’m in my daughter’s Maternal Health Nurse check up and the nurse asks me “are you coping?” I really don’t think she expected the flow of emotions and confessions to come running out of my mouth but in that moment with both girls demanding a hug at my feet I honestly asked myself that question and gave an honest response… “Not really…”