Managing Me: A New Perspective

By Kate Lynch O'Neil

Waiting PLace graphicNever thinking it could happen to me, here I am in what Dr. Seuss calls “The Waiting Place” – as described in his beloved story, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”

My compliancy and ability to cope with life’s stressors and struggles have made me the person I am today. I have no regrets and harbor no shame as my path has led me to today – a challenging but adventurous whirlwind of a life complete with family and professional identities. But being “in transition”- moving from Massachusetts to Virginia – has been trying.

But in all reality, I’m currently in an uneasy place. As the illustrious Dr. Seuss describes, “You can get so confused that you’ll start in to race down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space, headed, I fear toward a most useless place – The Waiting Place . . . “

Yup, Dr. Seuss perfectly describes my current life predicament. But perspective and living stress-free are two seemingly meaningless concepts to me at the moment.

I don’t feel symptomatic, but something’s got to change. I recently learned how saying ‘no’ without guilt could be the cornerstone to de-stressing my daily life.

While I manage a diagnosis of Bipolar I, I haven’t lived my life of late without much concern of another episode. I’ve prided myself in my ability to “roll with the punches” and accurately discern between me-being-me, versus, me exhibiting symptoms of my bipolar disorder.

But there have been too many punches to count over the past few months and I’m nearing exhaustion by the work and stress. My new psychiatrist told me the other day that I had to “slow things down” or I risk relapse.

And just how does one “slow things down” when the chimes of responsibility ring too loudly to stay calm and at ease? I’m not good at it, but consciously knowing what to deem ‘a priority’ is paramount. Not an easy lesson to learn.

That said, my plan has been to give it a concerted effort. The original thought was that once our son started Kindergarten and we were on the road to closing on our new house in Virginia, I’d take time for me – get all those doctor’s appointments tended to now that I’ve established my psychiatric team, re-ignite my yoga practice and slowly but surely practice mindful meditation. This was my plan, but as with all good plans . . . life happens while you’re planning!

Within the span of a week after our son Daniel started school, I flew North in a flash to move a cherished family member from Massachusetts to Virginia. 70 years of life packed in neat boxes and accurately labeled for delivery to an assisted living facility close to our soon-to-be home. We had plans for family to visit and stay with us at our small transitional apartment for Daniel’s birthday, which came on the heels of this emotionally charged move. A great family visit but ultimately yet another straw in my stressed out, emotional haystack.

Another aspect of the plan was for me to land a monetarily fruitful job after closing on our new house in just a few weeks. Despite popular opinion, I’ve shelved that search until the time feels right. It triggers stress to think that I’m not contributing financially to the family, but what feels right must be true – I’m too overwhelmed to add another stressor.

Described so concisely, it may seem difficult to understand why this period has been so stressful. As I reflect, I realize that flying back ‘home’ was traumatic on many levels. It was too soon. Too much home sickness was going on to add sorting memorabilia and clap trap. And then our sweet angel turned six. Six years of successful responsibility and parenthood. I may snap and yell sometimes. Often I can be stubborn and persistent about an idea. Other times I can lash out meanly when I don’t meet my objective due to something outside of my control. But that’s me coping with life. I’m also a great Mom, loving wife and outspoken advocate for mental health awareness. Some might say I could go on . . .

The answer is there are no medical ways, per se, to march on. I’m compliant – just stressed out. So a mindset shift is what’s necessary. I’ve been able to control my perspective in ways I never deemed possible. My husband often says, “it’s an adventure you’ll learn from” – and I want to throw a china plate at him. But it’s true. This past month has been a trial – both fun and stress-filled, but thankfully always with support. Even if said support and attention makes me more wound up, the reflective comfort of love makes the struggles worth bearing and the compliancy a must. You know – family can drive you to distraction, but there’s no crew you love and respect more.

Yes – I have a few doctor’s appointments this week and I’m going to my first yoga class in years. Happily, we’re preparing for the final leg of this six month saga and will be moved into our new neighborhood for Halloween. Daniel has given me the assignment of transforming him into a tree for trick-or-treating, because he said: “I love looking at trees”.

So isn’t all this turmoil and strife selfish? Trying to rest and skip on seemingly unnecessary responsibilities instills a deep sense of guilt. But I’m learning. Yes – I need to care for Daniel daily. Yes, I need to assure my husband is connected and we’re on the same page, especially when he works very often from 8am-11 pm daily (including weekends). Yes, it feels like family has encroached upon our new safe haven for change and growth, but in all honesty, I’m blessed.

I’m as healthy as I can muster at the moment. I go to bed early when I can and I try to smell the roses as often as possible. It’s not easy, but I try.

And isn’t that what any of us can do? In this topsy-turvy world, we can keep on plugging away and working hard while managing the prospects of our goals and dreams. Sure – a synapse could get angry at me and this house of cards could tumble. But I can only do what I can – take my regime of medications, stay healthy and monitor myself regularly. Be mindful, I’d say.

The future is bright, for that I am sure. The path to that well-lit adventure is soon to be better understood – and managed.

 

 

3 responses to “Managing Me: A New Perspective”

  1. Mom says:

    I very good perspective, Kate. Good job!

  2. Mary says:

    I am amazed at how far and apparently well you have come in this difficult uprooting journey. I am hopeful that yoga…my main anxiety reducer and being settled in your new home will be stabilizing. Although moving and creating a home is a tremendous amount of work, it will be well worth it, Any assistance I can provide from a distance to an awesome young woman? Take care!

  3. Katie says:

    This is a great article! Thank you for writing it!!

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