Tuesday, February 18, 2014


Right now, I am sitting at my kitchen table with my laptop.   I am rolling out my neck and trying to ignore or fix the headache that it creeping from the back of my skull to behind my left eye.  I am passing crackers off to my 14 month old in her high chair to keep her quiet while I wait for the frozen pizza to cook.  I am watching my three year old out of the corner of my eye as she examines the stickers she got in the favor bag from her friend's birthday party.

I am okay.

And I'm a mess.

Sometimes I wait for permission to take care of myself.  I wait for someone to tell me that it's okay to get a massage, that it's okay to take a nap, that it's okay to ignore my kids and read a book.  And then I resent them when they tell me such things because obviously, those things aren't true.

But really, I think sometimes what I'm waiting for is permission to not be okay.

I worry that feeling depressed, that wanting more out of my life, that having an existential crisis, that looking for meaning, that feeling like I have a deeper purpose, that wanting to feel fulfilled and being disappointed when I'm not, that these are first world problems.  These are signs of privilege.  They mean that I'm ungrateful.  They are shameful.

I believe that I should just stop complaining.

When I went to the doctor and she put me on meds, she asked me how I was doing, and she really listened.  I told her I feel overwhelmed sometimes and that I wasn't sure if it was just normal.  She said I didn't have to feel that way.

Before I had kids, when I was successful, when I was getting straight A's and winning teacher of the year, no one ever asked me if I was depressed.

But I was.

I was so afraid of letting anyone down.   I was so close to the edge, all the time.  I had to keep succeeding, to keep helping, to keep giving, to keep being good at everything and good for everyone or I might disappoint someone.

I didn't love myself.  I never have, really.

But it wasn't until I became a mom, until I couldn't just ignore the parts of my life I wasn't good at, couldn't just redirect everyone's attention to my successes that suddenly the world thought I was allowed to be depressed.

And they told me that what I need is a break, told me again and again, get a sitter, join a gym, go out with girl friends.  Stop being a martyr and take care of yourself more.

And I get so mad because that's NOT the POINT.  I just want to win again.  If I could just get back to winning, I could keep that hateful voice quiet again like I used to.

Maybe I shouldn't.  Maybe I don't want to.  Maybe I'm grateful to my kids and my life for breaking me.

Maybe it's the only way I can have permission to become whole.


  1. What is your definition of winning?

    At this point, winning for me is taking each day and hoping that by the end of the day it doesn't feel like I just survived it. Some days that means I have a decent day at work or perhaps it means that I have made it to the gym more often than not. Other days winning means I haven't yelled even though my inner voice is screaming out in frustration.

    I wish I had some amazing piece of advice that will solve this crisis you are doing through. Sadly I don't but I can at least let you know that I have heard you and you are not alone.

  2. This hit me like a ton of bricks today, Story. I think there is value in taking better care of yourself. It's easier to feel like a winner when you've had some time to yourself and to do things you love. But I hear you most when you say you just want to win again. Everything feels like a loss sometimes. And just UGH.

  3. It is hard for me to see the small moments as wins. I'm trying to train my brain to do this. My goodness it is hard work. And let's be honest, the last thing I want more of is work. Some days I am successful at realizing a small moment as a win. But then it seems like that feeling disappears right away, when the next crappy thing comes bearing down. But I'm trying. And that's a win.

    I hear you, and I love you.

  4. I am all too familiar with that hustle and drive to keep doing more, being more and achieving more. I never felt the need to get off the treadmill of life until PPD and PPA made me examine my entire life. It's a process to find out what you need to be whole. I'm still working my way towards that. I'm counting the little wins because they will continue to add up over time.

  5. Oh my god. Now I'm sitting at my desk at work trying not to cry. Because YES. This is so it. I want (need) the other stuff - the take-care-of-myself stuff - but I also need to go back to being someone who wins. I'm sick of feeling like I don't have control over my ability to do that because I have kids.

    We had a building dedication ceremony yesterday for a former exec who lead the project to get this office building built, and while I'm sure there were other people who did much more of the hard work (as someone who came into the role with no construction experience he was probably just a figurehead) I just sat there thinking, "I will never be successful enough to have a building named after me." Yes, being a mom is "success" and contributing to the world and blah blah blah. I want to do something bigger.