I am so completely on the struggle bus lately. My anxiety has never been so high, physically, my body is a disaster, and there is just not enough time for anything.
I’m really having a hard time finding my footing lately. So many hormones post birth, so many trials and tribulations attempting to breastfeed my little dude, lack of any forward progress (much less any significant amount of time spent) on my artistic career, being diagnosed with not one, but two auto-immune conditions (Rheumatoid arthritis, which was expected but perhaps not so young, and Lupus, which came the fuck out of left field), zero physical activity, an exhausting commute schedule, and a number of large changes pending at work… I don’t know how to balance it all out much less make time for myself.
And then a day like today happens, and I feel like I’m literally going to fall to pieces if anything else hits me. What happened today? Well, I guess nothing really… Except it kind of did, because it was more of the same and then some. All those little anxiety building blocks, plus some over the top moments that have just put me on the absolute edge.
To start the day off right, the baby woke up at 330 and kind of nursed for like 30 minutes, but neither of us got back to sleep, so finally at 4, I got up with him. He wanted to cuddle, but only if he could wiggle all over the place. Which was fun, given that in the morning I have a really hard time gripping things and moving in general (Thanks, autoimmune system!). He screamed all through his diaper change and getting him dressed. He wiggled and hit all through being rocked and playing. He fussed all through breakfast, until I gave him orange segments, only then he got pissed when we had to wipe him down because he was covered in sticky orange. Oh, and then got mad when we had to change his diaper and outfit because he was a pee pants. So basically (admitting to being a bad mom here), he was on my last nerve this morning when Matthew left to take him to the sitters. However, at the same time, I understood why he was being difficult… he’s cutting FOUR teeth at once right now. Four. FOUR. FUCKING. TEETH. And comparatively speaking, he’s taking it like a champ. From what I understand, this could be so much worse. It’s just that given my health struggles right now, and our commute schedule, loosing an hour of sleep really kind of fucks me up.
Then I went to work, where I spent the morning mostly OK, but in a state of low level anxiety, because I feel like when I’m at work, I should be with the baby, and when I’m with the baby, I should be making art, and when I’m making art… You get the point. I’ve been anxious a lot lately about my lack of productivity in the studio, but it really kicked into overdrive last week when I went to get my haircut at a new place, and the stylist was like “Oh! You’re an artist? Give me your instagram, because we’re a gallery too!” And I was like…. [insert blank stare here]. Because I couldn’t even remember the last time I’d posted my work on instagram, let alone even posted on there. I also haven’t shown in quite some time. So that’s awesome. But at the same time, it’s lit a little bit of a fire under my ass. Art. I need to Art. Especially if I ever want to leave my current job and get a teaching job. Which I wold very much like to do. Because I miss teaching. But that’s a panic attack for another day.
Anyway… I was handling my art/time anxiety OK this morning because my oh-so-amazing partner gave me the night off, (No need to head straight home or to pick up the kid after work! No household chores! No distractions! Perhaps some wine as I sit and work on my own, someplace that isn’t home!) so I had a semi-leisurely evening of arting/writing to look forward to. Don’t get me wrong. I was feeling a bit guilty for ditching the kid and the partner, but to be honest, I couldn’t recall the last time I’d had any alone time, much less the last time I had been able to work totally uninterrupted for more than 15 minutes. Sometimes you just need to be by yourself, with your headphones on, ignoring everything, and drinking anything in reach.
However as I was sitting down to eat my lunch and do my second pump of the day… I spilt the majority of my first pump. All over myself. I almost burst into tears right then and there. To once again back track, since day one of breastfeeding, I’ve had a VERY low milk supply. We’re thinking now that it’s due to the lupus (because I have exhausted literally every other possibility of an explanation), and for the most part, I’ve made peace with it. As such, breastfeeding has been really hard. If I’m lucky, on an extremely good day, I pump an entire 6 ounces of milk. To put that in perspective, my kid takes anywhere between 30 and 40 ounces of milk a day. So those 6 ounces are really hard fought. Every drop counts for me. So loosing Half… well that just fucking sucks. It makes me feel even more terrible about the little milk I do make.
As I’m cleaning up THAT mess, an email bings into my work inbox. Let’s be honest here, most of the emails I get at work are totally pointless and unrelated to me, so I almost didn’t read it before deleting it. Except that I did, and thank goodness, because this one was actually pertinent. It was informing me that my insurance premiums for next year would be going up. Considerably. Considerably considerably. Thank goodness I’m health… Oh wait. That’s right, not only do I have rheumatoid arthritis, I have lupus. FUCKING LUPUS. So that’s cool that managing that is going to be even more expensive next year. Yay!
Whilst I’m processing the insurance news and still experiencing wet crotch from the milk spill, my mom calls me. This is quite unexpected, but I figure it’s going to be some minor detail or bit of info about her upcoming visit over easter. I almost don’t answer. But I do. (When the fuck will I learn?) My uncle, her brother-in-law, has died. Like, 30 minutes prior. I don’t even know what to say. Because I’m terrible in those types of situations. Not because I don’t care, but because I actually hurt for those directly impacted, and there’s nothing that I can think of saying that isn’t either a) an empty, meaningless platitude, or b) a tasteless, awkward joke (because that’s how I cope). So, I just say “Tell Aunt Karen I’m sorry, I’ll talk to you later.”
At this point in my day, I still have like another four hours left of work and I literally cannot calm myself down. It’s all I can do to keep myself from shooting laser beams out of my eyes at students, and melting them before they can reach me. I. Just. Can’t. The anxiety has hit fever pitch and I want to cry and scream. I need to make art, but I also need to take care of people. I want a drink, but know that I should really just find a therapist instead. You know, par for my anxiety course.
Now, to be perfectly honest and upfront, the uncle who passed, was not a particularly close relative. It had been a number of years since I’d seen him, and I didn’t spend a lot of time with him growing up. Of course, that doesn’t change the fact that its terrible that some one has died, and that should always be marked with respect. However I’m quite fond of his son (my cousin), and I keep up with him on Facebook. And I know he’s been on the struggle bus lately, perhaps just as hard, if not harder than I have been. So my upset at the passing of my uncle has more to do with my concern for my cousin and having a great deal of empathy for his current situation. And that puts my current struggle bus experience into perspective. It doesn’t lessen it, but it helps me remember, we’ve all got our shit, and we will all survive. So yeah.
That was my day… How was yours?