I know more than you think I do when you come in my office with tears in your eyes and tell me you aren’t feeling well.
I know you’ve been thinking about this appointment for months. Putting it off. Avoiding making the call because it is hard to schedule any time for yourself into the day. A day filled with dishes and laundry and library storytime and lunchtime and naptime and after school homework and soccer practice and dinner and bathtime and bedtime. Plus, you’re nervous about what must be wrong with you.
I know it took a huge effort to get here. You had to get the kids fed and ready to go over to the neighbor’s house for a couple of hours (which you’ll repay when you take her kids next week so she can get her hair cut) and you’re hoping to get home in time to put the littles down for a nap before the big kids get out of school. You look forward to that hour of quiet every single day and you are annoyed that I am running 20 minutes behind.
I know you got ready before you came. In hopes of looking a bit more ‘put together’ you showered and fixed your hair and put on make-up. You even wore a cardigan because Glennon Doyle agrees good moms who are ‘put together’ probably wear cardigans.
I know you’re not sure what to say. When I start asking questions and listening and nodding my head this little voice in the back of your head says, “Why did I even come here?”
I know you don’t feel well. You just don’t feel right. You are tired ALL THE TIME. You’re not hungry or you’re too hungry and no matter what you do you seem to be gaining weight. You can’t sleep at night because your mind is racing and during the day you repeatedly fall asleep on the couch during the kids’ naptime even though you have a ton of laundry to fold. You want to go out with your best girlfriend but then you’re actually thrilled when she calls to cancel. Your periods have changed. In your early twenties you barely noticed having a period, but now your periods are a nightmare! You’re so incredibly angry in the days leading up to your period that you scare yourself sometimes. Then when it starts you can barely go out of the house because you soak through a tampon in about an hour. And also you’re wondering what is with this acne?
I know you’re worried something is really wrong with you. Or you’re worried nothing is wrong with you and you must just be crazy.
I know you hope I can help you. You hope it’s your thyroid! You hope I can give you something to make you feel like a normal person. A person with some energy. A happy person.
I know you feel guilty because most days you are just not happy and you worry this means you are a terrible mom. You think, “But I have NOTHING to be unhappy about!”
I know you don’t like when I ask questions about depression or anxiety even though you wonder about that sometimes yourself. And you think, “But I have NOTHING to be depressed about!”
I know you KNOW you should be eating better and exercising and getting at least seven hours of sleep. I can see the defeat in your eyes when I ask about it because you tell yourself every day you’ll be better about all these things but then life gets in the way. The baby is sick or the kids have an event at school or there are several practices in one night so you don’t get to the gym and end up with drive-thru dinner. Again.
I know you beat yourself up about that on a regular basis.
I know you beat yourself up a lot. You are convinced you are a horrible mom because you lost your temper with the kids again even though you are reading Scream Free Parenting. Or you believe you are an awful spouse because your husband comes home to a tired wife and fighting children and a messy house and grilled cheese for dinner. Plus, you’re so exhausted every night that sex sometimes feels like another chore. You worry that you should be working. Or if you are working, you worry you should be staying home. You think you might not be living your life’s purpose. You think, “What IS my life’s purpose??? Maybe if I just had more energy…”
I know more than you think I do when you come in my office with tears in your eyes and tell me you don’t feel well.
I want you to know some things too.
I want you to know I see you. I SEE YOU. I want to help you. More than anything in the world I want to help you feel better.
I want you to know we are on the same team. I want it to be your thyroid! I hope I check a TSH and find it through the roof and start some Levothyroxine and you follow up in 4-6 weeks and tell me you feel like a new woman. I want to find an easy tangible abnormality that I can likely do something about so you can feel better. Take an iron supplement. BOOM. All better. I wish I could always have the answer. And don’t worry…I worry I might be missing something too.
I want you to know we are from the same tribe. I changed my pants before I came into the office today because of a poop blowout from the baby. I woke up three times overnight to settle the baby then to help someone to the bathroom then to “cover me up real good.” I am SO tired. I struggle a lot with the strange dichotomy of working and mothering, too. Should I be working regularly? Or home permanently? I went to school FOREVER and we have so many student loans. But what IS my life’s purpose??? I baby-step my way into the office every time telling myself, “Just go. The kids are fine! They have fun with the nanny!” and then once I get there and start seeing patients I love it. Sometimes I wonder if you and I should just skip the exam and go out for lunch!
I want you to know you are a good mom. That’s right. YOU ARE A GOOD MOM. And a good wife. And a good person. YOU ARE. And that ‘life’s purpose’ thing??? Well, we are both living it right now. Our calling is this life we’re each living today. This moment, in fact. We just might not see the big picture right away.
I want you to know I might find something ‘wrong’ or I might not. Your hormones and other labs might check out just fine. I might suggest we trial an anti-depressant. And that doesn’t mean you have failed or you don’t love your family or you are weak or any of the other number of things I know you have running through your mind. It might take a few tries to find the right one. I might suggest you see a therapist. I might end up referring you to a specialist because I just don’t have the answer.
I want you to know you are not crazy! And I want you to keep coming back. Please take care of your body, be gentle with yourself and just keep showing up. Until we get it right. Together. Until you feel better. We can do it together.
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