Over the last 18 months, I have struggled in ways I never thought possible. In that short time, I’ve dealt with an unexpected pregnancy, extended bedrest, serious pregnancy complications, a traumatic birth experience, postpartum depression, a colicky and hospitalized infant, and then a diagnosis of bipolar disorder.
In retrospect, I don’t know how I survived it all, except that I just did the next most important thing.
I never imagined that I’d make a plan to kill myself. I never imagined that I would be sent to the crisis center from my doctor’s office, nor that they’d recommend an inpatient stay in a locked ward of the hospital. I never imagined that I’d spend 6 weeks in an intensive daily psychiatric hospitalization program.
Losing my marbles didn’t happen all of a sudden. It was a slow leak, a trickle. They slipped away, one at a time, escaping unnoticed.
Gathering them back up again was hard. It was slow. It stretched me to the limits of myself.
How did I do it?
I asked for help, and I always tried to do the next right thing.
Asking for help
I am a fiercely independent person. I don’t like to need other people. I don’t delegate; it’s easier for me to just do it myself. No one can do it as well as I can, and I don’t want to spend the time to ask or explain or instruct.
When things were at their worst, I couldn’t do it myself. I spent eight weeks lying on my couch because my blood pressure was far too high. I couldn’t cook for myself, nor clean, nor wash my own clothes, nor bathe my daughter. I had to ask for help.
Fortunately, my husband is the most helpful man on the planet, and he picked up a lot of the slack. My mother and sister also helped now and then.
When my psychiatric health was at its worst, I called my doctor. I reached out. I was honest. I told her that I was suicidal, and I couldn’t find a way out of the dark place.
I asked for help. I was shocked at how many people gathered around to help me pick up the marbles rolling around on the floor. They wanted to help.
The next right thing
When things have gone wildly wrong (in the midst of postpartum depression when I was crying all day or when the baby wouldn’t stop crying for hours or when I wanted to kill myself more than anything in the world), I focused on doing the next right thing.
Sometimes, I knew I’d screwed up my day, screwed up my kids’ day, and screwed up my husband’s day, but all that was behind me. The next thing could be done better.
Usually, the next right thing involved asking for help, but sometimes it was simply getting out of bed. Sometimes it was going to the bathroom, washing my face, and taking a couple of deep breaths. Sometimes, the next right thing was reading a book to my kids or giving them a hug and saying “I love you.”
There was always something I could do right.
Finding my marbles, scattered hither and yon, was not easy or quick. It took months.
But I did it.
You can, too.
Tara Ziegmont is an SEO Specialist who consults for companies, bloggers and writers. She is voice behind FeelsLikeHomeBlog.com, the inbound content manager at About One and the founder of HarrisburgMoms.com. Today, Tara is living the life she loves and loving the life she lives. Connect with her on Twitter @TaraZiegmont.