Goal Setting For My Mental Health

For a long while now, I’ve been stuck in a place I’m not happy with. I don’t mean physically, although my physical health is less than stellar. It’s more that this year I have spent a tremendous amount of time running away from my own life, trying to make it seem like I’ve got everything together when the truth is that I have this feeling like the walls of reality are crumbling around me.

Maybe that sounds a little dramatic.

I guess the truth is that I’ve been bogged down under the weight of a deep depression that started with the traumatic birth of my son last December and continued through some debilitating post-natal depression in the first half of the year and a fall-out with my family back home over the summer. This year has not gone how I thought it would, and I’m rethinking my whole life these days.

I mean, don’t get me wrong – I am as in love with my husband and kids as I ever have been. They are my truest joy, and I adore being a wife and mom. No family is perfect, and I’ve always prided myself on showing the best and worst in as true a light as possible. I have always told people that I don’t “sugar-coat” our lives, but I tend to “cinnamon-coat” it. What I mean is that what I share isn’t the sweetest moment or the bitterest. I share reality. And like my favorite aromatic spice, my life may smell great, but the reality is that it doesn’t taste that good unless you mix it up with a bit of sweetener.

Something I’m realizing a lot lately is that my mind has turned to mush from disuse. I have always prided myself on my writing, but I haven’t written anything in MONTHS. Nothing that is meaningful, anyway. I have been churning out crafts, recipes and educational tools in lieu of actually being real with my audience. Part of it is the aforementioned depression, which tells me no one cares or wants to read that stuff. But part of it is just that I have become insanely worried that if I don’t produce pretty things, no one will bother with me at all.

So now, I find I can’t even articulate what I want to say without a huge internal struggle.

When we start seeing ourselves as vital to our own lives, we can begin sloughing off the guilt of self indulgence.

In a nutshell, here’s what I perceive is wrong with my life, along with how I’d like to change it going forward.

  1. I’ve become exceedingly lazy. In the early days after giving birth and in the midst of my PPD, I took to sitting on the couch watching TV instead of actually doing anything worthwhile. Over time, my baby boy became sort of insistent on being held ALL the time, which meant I couldn’t put him down at all. Ever. So now, I am spending most of my days sitting on the couch with the baby, lamenting the fact I can’t get up and do anything, while at the same time refusing to do anything about it. Lame.
  2. I’ve become way too fat. I mean, listen, I don’t feel like I need to be model-thin or even lose a ton of weight. I was quite happy when I was 175 lbs, and I had tons of energy to do all the things I wanted. But since my third pregnancy 4 years ago, and especially since my last pregnancy, I have put on a whopping 20 lbs that won’t shift. I keep jumping on the diet bandwagons, losing ten or fifteen pounds and then putting it all back on again when I inevitably get tired of that particular diet. I’m all about loving yourself no matter your size, but my body is saggy and floppy, and nothing fits well or looks good, and I need to do something about it.
  3. I suffer from chronic pain. For several years, I’ve been dealing with some pretty bad back pain, and with my current weight, the pain has become even worse. My upper, mid and lower back are always in pain, and lately I’ve been throwing my back out more than is normal. On top of this, my hips are always aching, which makes me cry out at night. I have had migraines for years, and they have gotten worse, as well. Basically I feel like my body is falling apart. I can’t take opiates due to having bad reactions to them, I can’t take NSAIDs because of my gastrointestinal issues, and the CBD oil I spent $300 on is not really doing much to take the edge off.
  4. My health sucks. In the last year, I’ve been hospitalized TWICE for diverticulitis, and it was the worst I’ve ever felt. I mean, I’ve birthed FOUR kids, and I’d rather do that again than deal with the pain of diverticulitis. I’ve been told that the next time it happens, I will probably need surgery to fix the issue once and for all, and I’m pretty resigned to getting it done. But it’s just one thing in a long line of issues that needs fixed with me. My immune system is basically non-existent, and it all adds to the chronic pain and laziness and weight gain that I have.
  5. I’m depressed and anxious. I mean, obviously with all the issues I’ve described, it’s no wonder my head is a mess. I struggle with my mental health at the best of times, but right now I seem to be at peak crazy. I keep wanting to do things, but my brain gets in the way and tells me I shouldn’t/can’t/won’t do something. Even leaving the house is a struggle. I used to suffer from agoraphobia, and there were times I didn’t leave the house for weeks at a time. Nowadays, I don’t fear being outside as much, but I simply don’t leave the house. What kind of life is that??
  6. I have no creative outlet. I spend every waking second of my day thinking about the creative pursuits I want to follow. From writing (books, blog posts, articles, etc) to painting to bullet journaling to building things to interior design – I’ve got no shortage of ideas of things. I get all excited to work on one, but I can’t make myself pick one to go for. I want to create a list, but then I think that I need a pre-list list to list out all the lists I want to create lists for. Agh!

There are many more problems I could share, but these ones are the most pressing ones. So what am I going to do about them? My ultimate goal is to practice self care, as I have let myself stagnate, and I need to get better at take care of me.

Well first of all, I have an appointment on Tuesday to go visit my doctor and discuss the depression, pain and weight. I’m hopeful (and terrified) that he will prescribe some anti-depressants that may help me to think more clearly and hopefully that will help me work on the other parts of life that are suffering. I’m also hopeful he will have some ideas for pain-management. Ideally Utah will pass the medical marijuana act that is being voted on this November, and I will be able to try that out to see if it can help manage my issues. I know it’s controversial to some, but for me it is a light at the end of the tunnel, and the evidence I’ve seen is that it could be a total game-changer for folks like me who are suffering.

Mostly, I hope he will be able to do some tests to figure out if there are other reasons I can’t seem to lose weight and help me find a path that works for me. We shall see.

For now, I am working toward changing my attitude and trying to make things better for myself by giving myself daily, weekly and monthly goals. If I can start small, I know I can make the changes I need to get where I want to be. At least that’s the hope.

It’s all about radical self love. And believe me – loving myself will truly be a radical act!

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Katie Reed

Katie Reed

Katie Reed is a 38 year old mom blogger from Salt Lake City, UT. She is married to the man of her dreams and together they have four beautiful boys. Dexter is 9, Daniel is 7, Chester is 5 and Wilder is 2. She writes about living with mental health issues while navigating motherhood. Her blog focuses on tips and tricks for moms, information and parenting news, kid-friendly recipes and crafts. She loves to reflect on the humorous side of parenthood and shares the reality of her life, with a "warts and all" attitude.

3 Responses

  1. I’m surprised there are so few comments on this post. A wise woman once told me do just do SOMETHING, even if that thing turned out to be something that didn’t work, didn’t stick or wasn’t quite right. The depression, pain, anxiety, I get all of that. I’ve had 4 surgeries in the last year and am preparing for my 5th. One day when I was feeling particularly low I busted out some Wal-mart special watercolor paints and tried to make something. Failed. Kept trying, even sold a few paintings. I’m not doing it so much anymore, but at least it was a thing to do for a while. I hope you’re getting the help and support that you’re looking for.

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