Wednesday, December 2, 2009

It's hard to act good when you feel bad

As a parent concerned with giving my children a gentle, respectful upbringing, this is an everyday mantra for me. Because what follows is forgiveness for misbehavior followed by identifying the bad feelings behind it--and attempting to rectify them or guide their energy into a more appropriate venue. On the ideal day, when I'm at my best, at any rate.

Those days have been fewer and farther between lately. I've been thinking about depression and how it feeds into my health problems--and all other aspects of my daily life. I'm noticing more and more how I act badly because I just don't feel good, and haven't felt good in a long time. Sometimes, mommy needs a little gentle discipline, too.

I recently read this illustration of postpartum depression at Amanda Rose's Rebuild from Depression blog. It was initially amusing to read what could have been lifted from my daily life. And sad, too, that I still feel so awful at 18 months postpartum. That part about waking up bone tired really hit me. I just don't understand how I wake up in the morning feeling like I've been in a boxing match for days with no sleep. The soreness and tiredness gets worse through the day, and from one day to the next, and it's been compounding for so long that I hardly remember what it's like to feel good..

This is the viscous cycle I'm dealing with now. I feel lousy, so I don't have the energy to eat as well as I should and exercise, which makes me feel more lousy, and so on. I keep searching for that thing that helped me turn the bend the last time, and I just can't find it. I am noticing that, as I'm feeling that life is turning more and more into a grind, I'm making myself too busy to spend time with the kids and Peter, making excuses for eating poorly, wasting more time online, and my daughter is acting increasingly hyperactive and impulsively out of boredom. It's hard to act good when you feel bad.

I read The Mood Cure, which was very helpful. I had never heard such a lucid explanation of how deficiencies in certain neurotransmitters cause symptoms specific to them. And specifics on how nutrition plays a role. Ten years of strict low-fat vegetarianism really didn't do me any favors--no wonder I was such a mess during that time! I'm trying some of the suggestions in the book, and I think they're helping; I feel more clear-headed and energetic some days.

But not today. I've been writing this post in my head for days and, while the bones of what I want to say are all here, it sure doesn't feel very good. But it's what's on my mind, at any rate. I've also been asked, several times recently, about how we went gluten and dairy free. I feel so utterly unequipped to help anyone with their diet, I mean, who wants to take nutrition advice from an obese person? At the same time, we've been doing it for so long that it feels like second nature, and my kids certainly seem like they're healthy and thriving, so maybe I know more than I think I do. (I think this is a reference to an earlier post about cognitive distortions . . .) Hopefully writing some of that stuff down will feel more successful.

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