Asking for Help and Being Attacked by Squirrels

Posted by Meredith Hartley on

January 18, 2018

Today could have been an anxious and stressful day. Parts of it were. Depression and anxiety and PTSD are unpredictable, but they roar especially loudly when my kids are sick, when plans change suddenly, and when I'm on a major deadline and scared of failing.

I could have gone into avoidance mode or emotional-shut-down mode (my brain's preferred coping mechanisms). When my daughter woke up sick and in pain, I knew I was at risk of triggering a PTSD and anxiety spiral.  Instead, I asked for and  accepted help from people I trust to help me and help her.

I said "no" to the voice in my head that insists my worth depends on my productivity, and I took the morning slowly. When an appointment canceled after I spent a frantic 15 minutes trying to park a big-ass truck downtown, I said "no" to cramming in more errands to "make up for lost time" and "yes" to eating lunch.

I texted with a friend who is incredibly understanding when it takes me 8 hours to answer because I get so wrapped up in work. I made plans with my sister. I snuggled my dogs.

I came home very, very late to find a box of Cheerwine—a favorite Southern soda from my childhood — that a friend send me, along with a note reminding me to take care of myself and make time for self care. So I let myself sit on the couch and drink a bottle without distractions, and toasted myself for making healthy, strong, vulnerable self-care choices today.

Today, anxiety and depression and PTSD did not gain any ground. It's no guarantee that I'll make healthy choices tomorrow, or that things will be better or I'll be stronger. Mental health isn't linear or progressive like that. It's less of an "uphill marathon" thing and more of a "trying to run on a treadmill everyday while being attacked by squirrels in various stages of hunger and heat" kind of thing.

I'm not killing it at everything. As I write this, there's a pile of laundry, paper, craft supplies, and cutlery chest-deep in my bedroom and I can't remember the last time I washed this bra and I have 17 voicemails I haven't listened to and I need a team of four people reminding me that drinking flavored water does not count as "eating lunch."

But I've spent a long time learning how to take care of myself, to not hide my messiness or feel ashamed of it. Today I took care and didn't hide and didn't let shame beat me down.

Not every day will be good, but today was a good day. And I'm really proud of myself.



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