Several weeks ago, I started seeing a counselor. Last fall, I asked my priest for some sort of recommendation or referral to help deal with some of my sketchy mental health. Through a little bit of a snafu with messages not getting to the right place, combined with me feeling really really good through the third trimester of my pregnancy with James, nothing ended up coming of the lead in the fall. This winter, though, beset by postpartum hormones, short nights, and a stressful breastfeeding situation, I realized that the time had come to reach out once again. My inability to cope with what life was throwing at me was starting to affect my whole family. I wasn't debilitated, but my interactions with my husband and sons were certainly less than ideal. I was doing my best, but I knew that it wasn't the best that I was capable of. The decisive moment was when I imagined my sons growing up, and reflecting on their childhood with me.
"She was a good mom," I imagined them saying, "but..."
"...but she could never quite get a handle on her own issues. ... but she couldn't quite open herself up and love us fully. ...but she reacted unpredictably. ...but ...but ...but."
My children are going to have enough to forgive me for. I don't want to deal with things that I could, but won't because it's scary and painful. So I called up the practice recommended by Monsignor, begged a poor-cash-patient rate, and began seeing M.
It took less than one appointment for it to become clear that my "anonymous" commenter way back here was right - I have been learning, slowly, to live with anxiety. Obviously, this diagnosis is no surprise to me, and probably not to some of you, but it feels good to hear it from a professional in their professional capacity (as opposed to a professional in their aunty-ly capacity). I left the appointment feeling lighter, free-er. This means that the gentler voices in my spirit are right. I'm not just weak (although I am that), or lazy (although I struggle with that), or sinful (although God knows I'm that, too). There truly is something a little tweaked somewhere with how I process things. And beyond relief, and permission to be gentle with myself, this knowledge gives me hope. Not hope that my struggles to live life fully and freely will ever come to an end, but hope that I can find the correct ways to struggle, that I can put some focus into my efforts. It's the difference between lobbing cannon balls into the fog because you know there's a threatening ship out there somewhere, and being given a sonar to find your target.
So, pray for me, if you feel so inclined. I'm excited about this new venture, but apprehensive. I've shot myself down many times before, and the weeks since that initial appointment have been unusually rough. The poking around at old sore spots required to do some assessment and make plans for addressing them seems to have stirred things up a bit. I'm trying to breathe, hang on, and remember that it'll be worth it in the end - for myself, my relationships, and my beautiful sons.