Today we have the privilege of getting to know Emily, a busy mom who suffers from ADD, anxiety, depression as well as a binge eating disorder. Her positive outlook despite all this is inspiring- let’s get right to her story!
what stay well strategies do you employ to deal with the craziness of your life? You’ve got a lot on your plate!
1. Most importantly, I take my meds. I have backups at work in case I forget to take my morning dose. I force myself to wake up and take them if I fall asleep at night without taking my evening dose. Med management is so important. If I forget to take a few doses in a row, sometimes even one, I feel a little depression and anxiety creeping in and very quickly can go back to square one.
2. I go to weekly therapy. I’ve finally found a great therapist and it’s been good to work on my issues (finding myself unlovable, eating disorder/MI management, putting myself last, etc) with the same person every week, instead of seeing someone here and there. She pushes me a little and doesn’t let me whine for too long.
3. I have girlfriends who serve as part of my support network. My husband is wonderful, but having a few good friends is really important.
4. I have been going to a weekly 12 step group for several years now I don’t feel the need/urge to use drugs or alcohol anymore, which I used to numb the depression/anxiety. At the meeting, I learn a way to live that is based on “doing the next right thing”. The members there are also a part of my support group.
5. At home, I like to have music playing in the house. It makes me happy inside. Seems like a tiny, simple thing, but I’ve found it makes me feel better most of the time. I also love that my children are being raised in a home with music.
6. During the warmer months I love to garden. Digging in the dirt really helps me feel connected to the earth. Cheesy, but true! I’m sure it’s also therapeutic because it’s a bit of a physical workout at times.
do you feel that the depression and anxiety feed into your ADD or eating disorder?
The depression and the ED feed off each other, for sure. I have Binge Eating Disorder, which for me is a terrible cycle of feeling like shit about myself and how I look, then eating for comfort, then feeling like shit because I binged, then hating myself, then eating…. and on and on. My depression is a part of me at baseline, but when you add a huge issue like body image in, it magnifies.
When I’m feeling particularly depressed, I feel bad about myself BECAUSE I have these illnesses. I can really get into a “poor me” mindset… “Why do I have to have these things wrong with me, why is my life so hard, can’t I cut a break anywhere”. As you can imagine, it’s a pretty bad place to be.
Being a mom is tough enough, let alone being a mom with ADD, anxiety, depression and an eating disorder. Do you get help from family and friends? What, if anything, do your children know about your diagnoses?
My kids are 5 and 7 and these issues have never come up in conversation with them. They know I have “Dr appointments” and go to “my meeting” but in very general ways. If they ever ask questions about my mental health or MI in general, I certainly will talk to them about it in an age-appropriate way. I don’t want to hide the fact that I have these parts of myself, and I’d try to put a “life is hard sometimes, but I never give up” spin on it.
I try very, very hard to be as “normal” as possible in front of my kids. My daughter has asked me what I’m looking at a few times when I stare off/zone out (which is part of my ADD). There was a stretch when my anxiety was so bad that I let them sit in front of the TV for hours every evening because I couldn’t handle them (the usual rule is no TV on weeknights, so they probably LOVED this). But 90% of the time I either feel normal or can make myself seem normal, if only for their sake.
what advice do you have for other moms facing similar situations ?
1. A support network is absolutely critical. Nurture your friendships. My husband is wonderful, but personally, I need women friends too! (Husband is supportive of me but doesn’t truly “understand” MI and is a little bewildered by it all)
2. Take/make time for yourself. Your kids are amazing and adorable and smart and creative but get away from them every once in a while. Get out of the house. Go to a coffee shop. Go on a drive. Do something that makes YOU happy.
3. Use a Calendar. Having a schedule helps me feel way more in control, esp with kids activities and stuff. We use one that we can both update from our smartphones, it’s helped us out a ton.
4. Take it easy on yourself. You’re going to mess up/yell at your kids/etc every once in a while. You’re human. It’s allowed. Learn from your mistakes and move on.5. Watch the self talk. I tend to say things to myself that I would NEVER say to anyone else. Most of my self talk is body related – “I’m so ugly”, “how did I let myself get this fat”, etc. It’s so damaging to yourself. Lately I’ve been trying to challenge that self talk.
Emily brings up a great point in challenging the negative self talk, which is a problem for so many women, regardless of whether they suffer from mental illness or not. Her simple yet effective routines for managing what could be an overwhelming life are as easily utilized by a “normal” mom as well as one suffering from mental illness. I want to thank her for being so starkly honest and yet positive!
Are you in a similar situation? Tell us your coping strategies and advice in the comments.