Discovering and Coping With the Energy Vampires In Your Life

Do you ever find yourself wondering, watching through exhausted eyes as the kids get back on the bus after winter break, why the holidays left you so unimaginably drained? The more I think about it, stories of heightened stress around the end of the year holiday festivities have my thoughts pointed in a singular direction. Overwhelming. Amounts. Of. People.

Photo Credit The Carson J Spencer Foundation blog

Whether it is travel, being around family, or the financial pressures we place on ourselves, it seems after that shiny disco ball rings in the New Year, a collective sigh of relief audibly guides us back to our sense of normalcy. Does anyone else ever find themselves asking… “why?”

After all, we can mostly push the proverbial pause button on school, morning routines, and after school/work activities for a bit. We’ve spent time at home, in our pajamas, sipping coffee and smiling at each other while the kids relished in the magic of the season, right?

Oh wait…I forgot.

 

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There were school parties; work parties; friend parties; shopping in crowds; returning gifts; family to see, cook for and entertain; traffic; neighbors; gaggles of children…must I go on?

The point is, during this time of year we are almost forced to be around people that we may not see throughout the year. Sometimes this is a great thing and we are filled up with warm fuzzies, but other times we leave a situation feeling drained, overwhelmed, angry, depressed, anxious, threatened, and just down right OVER IT.

If this is you, my friend, then you have yourself what I have become accustomed to calling, an “Energy Vampire.” 

Photo Credit headinablender.com

The easiest way I can describe this is in terms of positive and negative. A positive person is in tune, energetic, with a light that flows outward. A negative person’s energy is blocked from the source, so their energy is dense, almost like a black hole, within themselves. The blockage does not allow the energy to replenish, so in order for them to be filled, they have to seek the energy of others.

These individuals may creep up on you, engaging you in a conversation that leaves you feeling empty.  They may not even realize that this is what they are doing to you! They just know that they can dump their emotional “stuff” into your bucket and feel better, regardless of how it leaves you feeling.

No matter what you do, how you try to steer conversation or the direction of the friendship, this one person always finds a way to latch onto you and send you energy revolving in an orbit of negativity around them.

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Most of these individuals are emotionally and energetically immature, so they lack any sort of empathy to recognize the social cues one might give them that they are being too draining.  They also may not care even if you socially cued them right upside their head, because they derive energy from other individuals, and they don’t know how to stop themselves from doing it.

I can’t stop them for you; however, I’m gonna give you some garlic-laced energy ammunition to protect yourself.  Just in case your cat-like reflexes kick in and make you situationally aware when people are waiting for an opportunity to jump into your bubble, I am going to give you some positive tools to use when your emotional capacity is plentiful and you want to be of help.

Photo Cred Joyful31.com

1. Know Your Personal Boundaries

In order to ward off an “energy vampire attack”, we have to be aware of our own personal struggles, mood, and headspace.  “Energy vampires” tend to feed on the weak. The higher your energetic capacity is, the less likely your energy will be drained. Daily, self-centering practices such as meditation, and self reflection are helpful keys to prepare yourself when you have to interact with these types of people. If you know your cups are low, avoid them at all costs.

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2. Roll Deep When You Can

If you can avoid one-on-one time with an energy-draining individual, then do. Interacting with negative people is almost always easier in group situations.  Dealing with them in groups not only sways the attention from being directly on you, but often makes the individual less likely to engage in immature behavior. Supportive friends and family are always great allies in these situations.

3. Make a Clean Break

Sometimes, the best way to deal with “Energy Vampires” is to recognize them for what they are and simply keep your distance. Maybe for a short term, maybe for a long term, or maybe until they, or you, are in a better place to communicate with each other. But sometimes you just need to make a clean break. It is important to ask ourselves

“what value is this person/these people actually adding to my life?”

If you are spending way more time solving their problems, listening without reciprocation, coming to their rescue, or worst yet, taking the fall for them when sh*t hits the fanthen it behooves you have to take serious inventory as to what this person is adding to your life. This is not to say that we don’t stand by old friends when sh*t hits the fan. On the contrary.

This is where the old pros and cons lists comes in handy. It sounds silly, but, I absolve you of any guilt-ridden feelings in performing this task.   You need your energy for the things you love, giving it away to those who won’t hold it dear is not something vital to your happiness. End. Of. Story.

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4. Be Direct

If your kindness kicks in and you want to lend a hand, try and keep your conversations direct. Instead of saying things like “tell me about it,” ask them directly “what can I do to help you?” This can ring very deeply in their empty well, and help them feel listened to and appreciate you on a different level.

For example, as a sleep deprived young mother my energetic cups were often very low and easily sucked into others’ negative inner turmoil. Hindsight is certainly 20/20 as I look back and see that if I could have found the energy at that time to simply ask directly what I could do to help with these individuals’ problems, we may have been able to work together to forge a constructive way to work out our differences, and we would have all been better off. And I could have saved myself a lot of energy-draining days.

5. Have a Self-Care Plan

If interaction with your “vampire(s)” is inevitable (for example with a coworker one cubicle over, or family member that seems to always “drop in“), have a routine for self-care in place for after you are around them (to remember your awesomeness, of course).  Maybe it’s a hot shower to rid yourself of their energy, or doing something nice for yourself or someone your care for – it all comes back to doing things that make you smile and re-fill your energetic “cups.” Whatever it is, tell your partner that you will need to have that time to fill back up immediately after the interaction is over. Your relationship with yourself and with all parties concerned will be better for it.

Photo Credit The Country Workshop

Setting boundaries, remembering who you are, listening to your own needs, engaging in direct conversation, practicing self care, and making a clean break when necessary, are the key components I have found successful in protecting oneself from those who feed off of your energy. I hope these tools help you to recognize who the “Energy Vampires” are in your life (OR if you are one to someone else!) and  go more confidently into situations with your own potential “Energy Vampires” and allow you to more deftly navigate them so that you aren’t left with an empty tank.

Now, go forth and be awesome!

004-1-of-1Kristy is a mother of two, Massage Therapist, and proponent of total body healing in Virginia.

Finance Friday: Financial Resolutions

When I ask my clients, “So, what’s your 2019 resolution?” I get a lot of very similar responses, particularly with the uncertainty of the stock market as of late.  A lot of people are saying:

“I want to go on a financial diet.”

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BLLLEEECH.  “Diet.”  That dreaded word.  It makes it sound so… boring, and restrictive.  Yes?  Ok, so let’s rebrand it.  Let’s call it a “Financial Reawakening!!!”  No?  Too much?  Ok, well, whatever you want to call it, here’s what I suggest you consider doing right here, right now, in 2019, to improve your finances without feeling like you are sacrificing things and experiences that make you happy.

1.  Take a Good Look at Your Budget

I highly suggest you either use something like Mint.com (free!) or a good old-fashioned spreadsheet.  Whatever you use, the important thing is that you look honestly at what you are spending and why.

pexels-photo-870902.jpegStart asking yourself, “do I really need the gym membership/pet insurance/lawn service I’m paying $100 per month for?”  Or, “Am I really watching my cable or do I only watch Netflix/Hulu?”  See if you can cut out things that are monthly (re-occurring) expenses that aren’t really adding anything to your life, that you can afford to live without, or are costly services that you can manage to take on yourself.

2. Take Control

Speaking of re-occurring expenses, get a good handle on those.  I love Madison Reed hair color, but I haven’t ordered it.  Want to know why?  They want permission to bill me monthly and send me more on a regular basis.  As a financial advisor, I hate these auto-billings and reoccurring orders, unless it’s truly something I use every day and run out of on a regular basis if more doesn’t arrive at my doorstep.  Take back control.Cancel these auto-payments and take some time to understand what you really need, when, and order it yourself.  You’ll save yourself some money right there.

3. Start Small

Make some MINOR adjustments to start.  If you usually spend $500 per month on eating out at restaurants, cut it back to $450, then back to $400, and until you get to a point where you feel like you are still able to socialize and have a good time, but can still save money.  Do not say, “No, I can’t hang out.  I’m trying to spend less money.”  That’s a Debbie-Downer attitude that will spell out short-term budget success but long-term burn-out.  (And probably like zero friends.)

Don’t do it!

Have fun.  Go out.  Just be more budget-conscious when you do.  Maybe don’t order the surf and turf at dinner (every time) unless someone new you met on Bumble is treating you. 😉

4. Stop Boredom Shopping

No judgment, of course, but I see you – Yes YOU, the one reading this.  At the top of your web browser, there is that tab open to Amazon.  I challenge you to stay away from shopping online when you should be doing other things, like working, sleeping, or hey, catching up with your spouse about his or her day over a glass of wine (a budget-conscious varietal of course).

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Stahhhhhp it!

It used to be that when exhausted, burned-out parents zoned out at the end of a long day, they’d just watch TV.  (I’m not saying that I personally did, of course, I’ve just heard from certain trustworthy parents that they binge-watched a few shows after the kids went to bed…) Ok, ok, Netflix is still in the rotation. But now, with the enormous growth in online shops, we also have retail therapy constantly at our fingertips, and with our “virtual wallet” we can easily order just about anything (did you know you can buy a hot tub on Amazon?!?!) at anytime without even looking at our debit card, let alone our account balances.  That can be a very dangerous habit.  Make a commitment to yourself that you won’t shop when you are bored or sleepless.

5. Understand Needs vs. Wants

Before making any purchase ask yourself:  “Is this a NEED to have, WANT to have or NICE to have item?”  If it’s a NEED to have, like new tires to safely drive your family vehicle, then by all means, go ahead and make that purchase. (These are almost always the least fun to spend our money on, FYI.  Chock it up to #adulting. Womp, womp.)

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If it’s a WANT to have, don’t deprive yourself, but don’t go crazy.  An example of this is a fancy latte.  You may arguably need a cup o’caffeine to perform your best at work after your kids wake you up at 3am, but you don’t need a Starbucks “double-shot, extra whip, no-fat, extra whatever” you could make a pot of coffee at home.  However, sometimes it just feels good enough to be a little #extra that you can justify spending a few more bucks. Make a commitment to treat yourself to these WANT-to-have items a few times a week, but not every day.  Finally, if it’s a NICE to have (like a boat, a motorcycle, or a Prada purse), don’t purchase it until you have no credit card debt and at least three months of expenses in a savings account. Sorry to break it to you, sailor. 

When in doubt, skip the boat. (Keep the flippy-floppies.)

6. Treat yo’self.

Did you just save $100/month for three months because you were doing these things?  If so, go get a $100 massage.  Yes, I realize that means you’re saving $100 less for the year, but this is about long-term success.  Did you save more than that this year?  $5k?  Go on a trip to Italy with a friend for $3k.

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Treating yourself because you are making more sound financial decisions will reinforce this behavior and ensure it sticks.  And the longer you do this, the higher the chance is you will see REAL results.  Yes… just like a regular diet.  The rules are the same. Cheating never works and it takes longer than you’ll want. But it feels damn good when you succeed.

HAPPY NEW YEAR and sending my best for your Financial Reawakening!!!!

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Margo Cook is a Certified Financial Planner and mother of two on Maryland’s eastern shore.

Mental Health Home School

Mental health is a lifelong journey for every human. It’s something that comes up a lot this time of year in particular as the holidays bring with them stresses, memories and not-so-welcome comments from family members you are generally able to avoid in the rest of life. As a family doctor, the number of visits on my schedule for anxiety, depression, grief, panic attacks and all manner of stresses dramatically increases leading up to Thanksgiving and doesn’t let up until well after New Year’s Day.

I have had a personal journey with mental health in adulthood that I appreciate in particular because I can truly empathize with others struggling. I’ve been in low, low places and I’ve been peacefully, truly, deeply happy. I’ve been on medication for depression, anxiety and post-partum mood changes. I’ve seen therapists. But, some of the most important work I’ve done to grow has been reading and self-reflection and I wanted to share the 5 key resources that have been the most helpful.

1. The Science of Happiness, by Stefan Klein

The first book that introduced me to the concept that you have some control over your own mental health was The Science of Happiness. I read this book at the end of undergrad as I was heading into medical school and it. changed. everything.

The Science of Happiness: How Our Brains Make Us Happy-and What We Can Do to Get Happier by [Klein, Stefan]At that point, I had started to recognize that not only did my mood influence my behavior, but my behaviors influenced my mood and experience of life (hello, frontal lobe, welcome to the rest of the mature brain!). This book gave me powerful insight into the why of that and got me working on “Happiness Habits”. As a lifelong cynic who questions everything, I would never have believed any book telling me to do something without understanding why that would make a difference. 

2) The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin

This book was my second mental health growth spurt and came much later. I had finished medical school and residency. Those 7 years were tough. We are confronted with very regular, literal life-and-death situations, sleep deprivation, lack of time for exercise or healthy hobbies, isolation from your loved ones and regularly feeling like you might be the dumbest person in the room – especially hard for those of us who used to be frequently the smartest person in a room (am I selling you on becoming a doctor yet??). I had been on and off medication and was ready to heal myself. I stumbled into this one at just the right moment.

The Happiness Project, Tenth Anniversary Edition: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by [Rubin, Gretchen]

Gretchen was in a similar place to me. We both were married to great people, had the family we planned, a nice home, a good job, but were still pretty miserable. I set out to do my own Happiness Project, setting out tasks, turning them into habits, and lo and behold!! I got happier! I was able to wean off medication in anticipation of getting pregnant again and wow, it really worked! I think I told everyone I know to go buy the book. You’re welcome, Gretchen!

3) The Universe Has Your Back, by Gabrielle Bernstein

Just when things had settled down a bit, life threw us another curve ball. My husband decided to go back to fellowship (extra medical training to specialize into a ‘niche’). Twice. This involved a 75% paycut, moving 4 times in 4 years, and, oh, we now had 2 babies and a puppy and I was also trying to be a good primary care doctor to brand new patients then having to ‘abandon’ them to move again over and over. It was rough. My rudimentary mental health skills weren’t really up to the task. The Universe quite literally barged in with The Universe Has Your Back and turned the tide.

I started it just as the girls were both sick at home, my husband was working 100 hours a week with a 3 hour commute, and I hated my own job at the time. We were massively in debt from the fellowships and had moved away from essentially all of our close support people. This book forced me to examine and change my own inner dialogue on a MUCH deeper level than I ever had before. The Universe began to quite literally speak to me, sparking several dramatic life changes that have turned into a happiness snowball effect. Can. Not. Recommend. Enough.

4) Girl, Wash Your Face, by Rachel Hollis

I probably don’t need to say a whole lot about this book since it’s blowing up the bestseller lists across the US and internationally. I might have fallen off the self-improvement wagon again as I had every other time had The Universe not led me to start working a side-gig that encouraged continuous personal development. We are expected to read 10 pages every. single. day. to improve your function in some way. They don’t specify what you read, just that you make it habit to work on yourself, a little bit, consistently. Even on the longest, most exhausted day, you can read 10 pages of something. Trust me. I picked this one next and found it inspiring, clarifying and full of real-life applicable advice.

Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are so You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be by [Hollis, Rachel]

I would add, however, that the part of it that most changed me and how I was doing with mental health was following Rachel’s podcast and posts on social media and going to the Made For More documentary – can’t WAIT for the next book which delves more into the action side of improving your life!

5) You Are A Badass, Jen Sincero

At the end of Rachel’s book, I couldn’t help but feel that I needed more direction. Rachel made me believe I was “Made For More”, but I didn’t quite know how to find what my ‘more’ should be or how to get there. You see, I had accomplished a lot by many measures – getting into a top medical school, becoming a Family Physician, making a healthy marriage and raising two (so far) thriving kids. From the outside, it looks like I am fairly good at setting goals and accomplishing them. The problem was, those goals were all externally defined – someone else said what the end result was and all the basics of how to get there.  I felt gratitude for being ‘successful’ without ever stopping to think about where I might dream of being beyond that.

You Are a Badass®: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by [Sincero, Jen]

Enter, You are a Badass. Jen Sincero’s book blasted open my eyes to the concept that you can simultaneously be grateful for what you have and where you are in life ANNNND have huge dreams about where you are going ANNNNNND ANNND AND make that life happen, whatever it is. I can’t begin to explain how big of a revelation this was for me.

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Jen breaks it down into how to get there in real terms, in cursy and hilarious fashion. With the help of this book, I have reached next-level happy. I discovered how to dream and made the first one of those dreams come true. I dreamed that even though we are on an incredibly strict budget, my husband and I could still go on a tropical vacation. I’ve never won or earned the “bonus” on any challenge in my life, but one came up in my side business with Nerium. Through goal setting, planning and consistent action, I earned a free, all-inclusive vacation to the Bahamas for us at a 5 star resort this June. BOOMSHAKALAKA!

Where are you now?

This journey has been my own. I readily acknowledge that everyone is starting or continuing on their own journey in different places. You may be light-years ahead of me, or struggling at the very beginning. I hope that one or more of these books might help some of you on the way. As always, this is my personal experience and not your own personal medical advice – talk your medical person if you need help.

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Dr. Annie is a family physician and mom of 3 in California.

This Christmas, Invest in Yourself

This post contains affiliate links to make it easier for you to get to the tools that were helpful for us. We may get compensation from the links, but the point of the post is to share a personal journey, not to be an ad.

As parents, we all know that our children are our priority.  So much so, that we often sacrifice taking care of ourselves (usually without even realizing it).  I am certainly no exception, and I’d like to share a personal journey of mine here today in the spirit of the holidays.

As a financial advisor, I’m here to give you permission to not only spend some of your hard-earned money on yourself, but to also call it an investment.  Because it is!  It is the BEST kind of investment, in fact.  Investing in yourself pays dividends in ways you can’t even imagine, and benefits ALL of the people around you, including the little ones in your life who deserve to have a HAPPY, HEALTHY mother.  Repeat this ladies:

My children and family will benefit when I am happy and healthy.

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It was this time last year that I realized that I wasn’t in ideal shape. Having kids changed my body and changed my metabolism. I stepped on a scale for my annual physical and was shocked!! Somehow, while all of my friends lost weight while breastfeeding, I managed to gain it and keep it on. Ugh!

You may be thinking: “Margo, how could you have not realized this without going to the doctor?”  Well, for starters, I have a wonderful husband who loves me 100% of the time no matter what I weigh, and would never EVER call something like this to my attention.  Secondly, before kids, I was mostly a slim person who didn’t really have to exercise to maintain a certain weight (annoying, I know, but stay with me), so I was not used to paying attention to these sorts of things.  I didn’t even own a scale.  Alas…  Here I was:

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I decided I wanted to get back to my best, healthiest self. But how? I started slowly but didn’t really see results – Now I know why. I didn’t know what I was doing! I know about finance, but I didn’t know about nutrition or exercise. There were 3 key things that turned it all around for me and I wanted to share with you all what worked in case it can help any of you struggling the way I was.

Step 1: Nutrition

So, in April, I decided to get serious and call in an expert. I started with Amanda Kettering and did The Arbonne 30 Challenge. Little did I realize it would be an entire lifestyle changer!! I started to learn how to eat healthier without sacrificing my happiness or sanity. The results were immediate thanks to the program and to Amanda’s coaching. In the first month, I lost 15 lbs. In the next 3 months or so of continuing the program 80% of the time, I lost 10 more lbs. That’s 25 lbs total ONLY with changing the way I eat.

This was without any exercise. If I, as someone who is horrendous at cooking with an insanely busy schedule can make this work, anyone can.  If you are committed to following the plan, you will succeed.  Yes, even if you don’t cook.  Yes, even if you are busy.  And yes, even if you’ve failed at other “diets” in the past. Want to access it?  Click here.  Have questions?  Send us a message, and I’ll tell you the honest truth about all of the good, bad and challenging.

Step 2: Exercise

After 4-5 months of this, I decided to tackle exercising. I made a huge leap and joined True Core CrossFit in Annapolis thanks to urging from my friend Andrea. She convinced me I could do it. I had heard about this place from my friend Patrick, but wasn’t convinced I was cut out for CrossFit. This was the girl who avoided any kind of weight lifting, other than her own children… Really? CrossFit? Little did I realize what enormous, amazing community I was joining. I not only got incredible education and hands-on personal help during every class, but I made a ton of wonderful friends who celebrate every success of mine as if it is their own.

True Core also gave me individualized nutrition training, followed with constant encouragement and feedback. It should surprise no one that the nutrition support closely aligned with all I had learned in Arbonne, with some modifications to support the health of someone aggressively lifting weights and working out in the CrossFit program. I also started doing intermittent fasting during this time (safely, according to the program and with the help of Kristy and Brandon). If you want to know more about intermittent fasting, see Kristy and Brandon’s post here: The Skinny on Intermittent Fasting.

The owner of True Core, Shannon, and every single one of her coaches helped me lose another 20 lbs in three months. And would you believe I am enjoying it???? Coming from someone who hates to run and usually wanders aimlessly around a gym, it should mean a lot to you all that I actually LOOK FORWARD to going to True Core 3 or 4 times a week. (Thanks to my mom Cece and my wonderful hubby for making it possible for me to make time for this!!)  Live in the Annapolis, MD area and want to check out True Core?  Click here and schedule a free intro session with one of the amazing coaches.  I’ll be there to cheer you on!

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This is me: 45 lbs less than I was a year prior.

Step 3: Skincare

There was one more problem for me… I had consulted a plastic surgeon at the beginning of all of this who said if I was able to lose my goal weight in a year, going under the knife was the only way to tighten that saggy belly skin I’d be left with. But I had a secret weapon, Dr. Annie and Kristy convinced me to try Nerium Firming Body Contour Cream. If Annie says something works, I’ve learned to believe her. And just LOOK! It’s absolutely amazing!!! Dare I say my stomach looks quite close to how it looked during my college years (after a few beers…lol)? Sure, I have a few pregnancy stretch marks but I kinda love them. The Firming Lotion lightened them significantly. Even though I love what they represent, I also love that they are lightening! This company sells only clinically proven products for wellness and anti-aging developed with a Princeton-affiliated biotech company, Signum Biosciences. Click here to get Nerium Firming AD Contour Cream for yourself.  I’m a believer!img_5613.jpg

I am here to tell you that you can BOTH love your body and be proud of what it did in pregnancy and postpartum, and also want your skin and stretch marks to look better.  I look at that before picture and feel that love and admiration for my body, AND I look at the after picture and feel love and admiration for the hard work it takes to help heal this body that grew two tiny humans that I love more than anything in this world.

I feel such enormous gratitude and admiration to these experts and friends that I feel compelled to tell you all and shine some light on their awesomeness. As you are considering Christmas gifts, don’t forget to invest in yourself. Don’t forget to call in the experts. Don’t forget that the value of these all FAR outweigh the costs. Plus, you’ll save your partner or family members the trouble of coming up with gift ideas – tell them you want this, make it easy on them, haha!

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I’ve still got work to do – more goals to hit and more milestones to celebrate, but at this point I am in the long game, and can’t wait to enjoy every minute of the adventure.

Don’t underestimate the power of consistency and desire

Your imperfect friend,

Margo

 

PostPartum Rage Is A Real Thing.

A couple of weeks ago, an article came across my newsfeed that stopped me dead in my tracks. We have discussed postpartum depression and anxiety here on the blog to help normalize the conversations about those two particular, and VERY prevalent, states of motherhood. But, what about those of us who have had both of those things manifest differently? What about those of us that cannot pinpoint what it is that we are feeling, leaving us confused, feeling isolated, and abnormal? What if our symptoms are not only sadness, stress, or anxiety? (as if that isn’t enough…sheesh)

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Photo Credit to Actify Neurotherapies

Commonly known symptoms of PPD and PPA are mentioned above, but with one caveat. The Anger/Rage category that is seemingly brushed over for the other symptoms listed here. My own postpartum manic anxiety turned into something I had never even knew existed until a couple of weeks ago…….it was FULL. BLOWN. RAGE.

Have you ever just been having a normal conversation, and something triggers you and you have this overwhelming anger that makes your ears turn bright red, your blood boil, and before you know it, your whole family is crying because you’ve screamed for the last five minutes without knowing what you’ve said or even why?

Have you found yourself trying like hell to not throw something across the room when the toilet seat is peed on and you forget to check before you sit, and end up throwing said object anyway?

I have.

Hi, my name is Kristy, and I am just realizing that I have suffered from PostPartum Rage for 7 years.

People don’t often talk about this ugly symptom of Postpartum Depression and Anxiety, because it describes a state of mind that is downright hard to talk about. To watch someone from the outside go through such uncontrollable anger must just look wrong. We have images within us that create this patient, loving, and kind image of a person that we hope to be as mothers.  I know that was my intention upon having children.  However, the “inner monster” that would come out of me during moments where I could not control my environmental triggers had other plans. It would create a panic that would lead to confusion, then frustration. Then, the trigger event happens and then boom….pop goes the mommy.

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Photo Credit New Scientist

I try to think back on all the times that I could feel my friends and family’s eyes on me, as I was triggered by the kids, dog, losing my keys or cell phone, or whatever. It was almost as if, in an instant, I would watch myself from outside my body. Normalcy would give way to rage, rage ended always in guilt, and all throughout this cycle, my inner voice is begging me,

200“Stop it this ISN’T a big deal! Breathe. Just please Breath.”

 

After my episode was over, I would go immediately into the depression cycle over the way I had “behaved” because I should have control over it. I would be so embarrassed for my family, that I’d regularly cry by myself or with my husband for significant periods of time over the next day or so. I’d then chalk it up to a bad day, pick myself up, and tell myself I’d never let it happen again.

But it always did.

The things is, I could not control it. It had its raging claws stuck in my brain, puppeteering me through episodes that could last seemingly for hours.

Thanks to Carolyn Wagner and her post on Motherly on a particularly bad day, I read what seem like a perfect description for what my postpartum symptoms were. I could never solidly say I was depressed or anxious all the time, but one thing I could always rely on, was having an anger button with a hair trigger.

When broken down though, Wagner explains it most perfectly by saying,

“In overwhelmed,  guilt 

I mean, Ding friggin’ ding. In one paragraph, I was given the gift I had always needed…… to feel UNDERSTOOD.

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She goes on to say that it “  

But how can this be? I am a strong woman. I have a support system. I have a great life, with GREAT kids. BUT, none of my friends or family had ever mentioned this type of symptom before. I hadn’t really even seen it as a doula!  I allowed that feeling of abnormality assist in isolating my rage, as I saw myself separate from my peers.  This is what created room for false perception to take over within me. AKA, self- judgement.

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After I peeled myself off the floor in a fit of tears, I immediately shared it on social media with Carolyn’s words still echoing in my head. The feedback was almost instant.

I really am not alone.

This symptom doesn’t go unnoticed, but it does seemingly get brushed under the rug in conversation. I believe it is more taboo because it is ugly, uncomfortable, and well……..angry.  Until now, I had felt that I had part monster inside of me. I even called it “Monster Mommy” while

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Photo from Readers Digest

apologizing to my family after calming down from an episode. Since I have been gifted a jumping off point towards being more informed about Postpartum Rage, I can now start creating awareness of its episodes within myself and with my support system. With this mindful awareness, I can understand what sets me off at it’s core, and avoid getting myself into those situations.

 

In cases where triggers are unavoidable, I have enlisted the help of my husband. As per the article, I would track when and what would set me off. We came up with a code phrase, “you are spinning” to alert my brain to what is about to happen. And, I dare say, it has been a powerful helper. We worked together to find one that wouldn’t cause the trigger to go off more immediately such as “calm down” or “you’re getting upset”   <shutter….jaw clench……okay just breath>

No matter what it is you do, there are a few things I want you to know:

  1. It’s okay. And it is okay to talk about it.  Please know that others need to know that this is a SYMPTOM, which means it can be treated.  You can ask your care provider to help you through this time. But please, have a true discussion about it.
  2. There is help. If you are a partner, friend, or family member of someone and you read this, please know that your partner doesn’t want to have this symptom anymore than you or your kids want her to. So don’t be afraid to ask whoever you can for help with it.
  3. You are loved. Self care is extremely important as parents. So, I am letting you know that  shifting into a self-care routine is vital to managing this. Your loved ones will thank your newfound self-care awareness when you learn how to tell when you need a break before you explode.
  4. A recurring theme of mine is that you’re never alone. Ever. And this is no exception.

                              ….It takes a village.

 

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Kristy is a doula, self-care advocate, struggle-bus rider, and mom of 2 in Virginia

 

Top 10 Things I’d Go To Black Friday Sales For

I don’t know about you, but I have never been motivated enough by a discount on sheet sets or one-size-bigger TV to get my lazy bum out of bed early the day after the Turkey Day feast. Some of you Black Friday Shoppers are so dedicated, you even brave going out in the midst of your Thursday evening tryptophan coma for the hottest deals! My hat goes off to you.

It got me thinking… what would be enough to get me to race the dawn to snag a hot deal… these, I think, could do it:

  1. Pre-made, healthy meal delivery service. NOT Blue Apron where I still have to make it. NOT take-out where it’s gonna add to my holiday pounds. Actual, home-cooked healthy food that children will eat and adults can enjoy that is delivered ready-to-eat to my doorstep. Heck, I would probably buy this without a discount…
  2. Gift certificates for hair styling at a salon with a daycare attached that serves wine. Book a cut/color, get 2 hrs childcare and a glass of bubbly free! I’m. There.
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    “Philippe, just do whatever hairstyle takes the longest… “(Photo by Valeria Boltneva on Pexels.com)

     

  3. Babysitter hours – I would take any discount that didn’t make me feel guilty here. It’s always a struggle between wanting to support those unfortunate enough to need to take a job watching my children and also not wanting to hemorrhage cash whenever I need to get away.
  4. Stretchy pants that look stylish but feel like pajamas but also suck in all the lumpy parts, with phone-sized pockets. Show me a BOGO (because I’ll need a backup pair when the one is covered in tiny-handprints-of-yogurt and dog hair), and I’m THERE.
  5. While we’re at it, a bra that has the push-up power to take me back to early-first-pregnancy, pre-nursing-any-babies boobs that also feels like a gentle cloud of support, not a medieval torture device. Like, how a friend would hold your boobs up for you in a time of need – not a husband, no grasping or pinching – just a friendly lift. Show me a buy 1 get 1/2 off, and I’ll wait in a line a mile long!
  6. First crack at buying a kid’s toy that makes no noise and teaches children that cleaning the house is the funnest thing ever. This one, I’d camp out for.
  7. The pelvic floor of a 17 year old. Not sure how they’d offer this one at a discount without something super sketchy going on, but I’d go out of my way for it!

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    Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
  8. College Tuition for the kids. Helllllp please!!!
  9. A Tesla self-driving car for the price of a Toyota Minivan. No gas station stops? Being able to hand out snacks to kids in the back without risking the lives of our whole family? Watch out people, door-busting this one!
  10. Half off wine… come to think of it, this one probably exists and I’m just too lazy to find the deal. Maybe next year!

Happy shopping or just relaxing mamas!

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Annie is a lazy shopper, mom of 2 girls with another kiddo on the way in California.

Supporting a Friend During Infertility

Infertility is a topic that will impact nearly all women in some way. Either yourself or someone you know will likely struggle with this – it affects 1 in every 10 women. For some women, it can feel unbearable to wait 6 months to get pregnant – others will wait years and spend thousands of dollars, undergoing invasive treatments to conceive. As more women wait until they’re a bit older to start trying to conceive, more struggle with this every day. As a physician, I am very well practiced at discussing the “medical” side of this when patients come into the office…. but as a friend? I still struggle to come up with the right things to say and do.

I reached out to one of my #WCW’s, Natalie Bushman, fellow mommy-blogger at Nat your average girl, for some help and am so happy to share her wisdom here. On her blog, she has shared her journey through new motherhood, then through secondary infertility (difficulty conceiving after a successful natural pregnancy), the twin pregnancy that resulted from treatments and being a mom of 3 along with fabulous personal style and home decor posts.

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Total blogger crush on this cute fam!

She recently discovered they’ll be bringing baby #4 into the family (congrats!!!) and I asked her to give us some insight into being there for friends who are going through an infertility journey since she’s personally experienced this from multiple angles.

Thinking back to when you first got pregnant with Blair, did you have friends who were already dealing with infertility issues? How did you approach them with news of your pregnancy then?

I was one of the first people to get pregnant in my friend group and didn’t know anyone at the time experiencing infertility. Looking back though, I was so naive and it never even crossed my mind that I could have a hard time getting pregnant (even though my Mom struggled for years). I just assumed that since I was healthy with a regular cycle that it would be a cinch… and lucky for me it was the first time! I didn’t think twice about miscarriage or not seeing a heartbeat at the first appointment. Ignorance was bliss but oh how the tables have turned!
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Baby Blair, their 1st

I’m sure people had all kinds of responses when you were struggling to get pregnant the second time around. You’ve blogged about the things people should NOT say to couples. Did any friends or family members say things that were helpful and supportive?

Yes, my close friends were amazing. Honestly one of the best things to say is simply,
I’m sorry. That’s so hard. Is there anything I can do for you to help?
Totally basic but shows that you care even if you haven’t experienced infertility yourself. The other things that helped were when my friends would check in on me after they knew I had a big appointment. Or they would say, “Call me after your appointment. I want to hear what the doctor said.” Things like that. Things that you would say to anyone going through a hard time or health scare. It’s just about showing you care. Hearing that someone is praying for a specific need of mine also made me feel better. To know that I wasn’t forgotten.

How can people approach this with friends who they aren’t sure if they’re having fertility problems – do you think that’s different than how you approach friends who have told you outright they’re in fertility treatment?

Ok, so I actually had a friend who told me she was struggling but she hadn’t told anyone else. At that point, she had an adopted child but had made it clear that he wasn’t adopted because of fertility reasons. She had even previously made it known to our friend group that she didn’t have a desire to have biological kids. However, over the course of time, things changed and her desire to have bio kids grew.  In group settings, it would be wildly uncomfortable because I knew to be sensitive but others didn’t. Other moms would share their birth/breastfeeding stories and I would try to direct the conversation elsewhere.
However, if people don’t know you are struggling then you really can’t expect them to be sensitive…especially if you have previously made it clear you aren’t interested in being pregnant. I guess it’s a balance. It kind of depends on your relationship with the person. I steer clear of asking strangers any type of kid-related questions. But if you’re my good friend and you’ve decided to be tight-lipped, then that is harder to help. Overall, I guess it’s just always best to be sensitive. But if people aren’t honest with their situation then it becomes harder to be sensitive.

Did you want people who knew what you were going through to check in on you regularly? Or did you feel like you just wanted to update them and not be bothered?

I kind of referred to this a little bit in question three. For me, I liked having people check in on me. There was only one instance in which I protected myself from this and that was right after IVF. I knew that I would get the phone call on December 28th that would tell me if I was pregnant or not (it was through a blood test result) and I purposely told my friends I wouldn’t know till December 30th. I wanted to be able to process the news (if it was bad) with just Matt. I wanted to have time to wrap my mind around it and be sad for a little while. I didn’t want to have to field a bunch of texts and phone calls. When we did find out I was pregnant I told them that day…it was too good to hold in!
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Evie and Cal

Did you worry about announcing this recent pregnancy since you didn’t have trouble conceiving this time?

Oh, totally. I was sweating over it. I know that a lot of my followers are dealing with infertility and I wanted to be SO sensitive to that. It was this weird mix of emotions because I was so thrilled/surprised by our pregnancy but so distraught over how others still struggling would react. I prayed that they would be encouraged and filled with hope that this could happen for them too, instead of feeling bitter or angry. This may sound ridiculous but when I was having a hard time getting pregnant, and I knew someone who just “looked at their husband” and got pregnant, I would be mad. But if someone who had struggled like me got pregnant, I would be so happy for them. Was that fair of me? No. But if I’m being honest I did have those feelings initially. Part of me hoped that since I had struggled in the past that I wouldn’t be that “annoying pregnant girl.”
For some reason, we seem to be happier for people who have “overcome” to get where they are. It sure makes for an incredible story. But, I regret being spiteful to those who didn’t have the same struggle as me. So what if they can get pregnant easily? You never know what else they could be dealing with behind closed doors… an abusive partner, ongoing sickness, the death of a parent, unemployment, depression… the list goes on and on. There’s so much sadness in our world.
I think if we all had a little more grace we’d all be better off!
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I can’t think of any better parting advice than that! Thank you Natalie! And friends, if you don’t already, go follow this awesome mama on instagram @natyouraveragegirl and check out her blog!
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Dr. Annie is a family doctor and mom in the Sacramento, CA area.