Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Coping Strategies


Before I was pregnant with this second baby 'the question' started to arise in conversations at the local fish taco shop, at birthday parties and while waiting in line at Joann Fabric: Are you ready to have another? 

Questions like this used to annoy me, but I've since realized that they are simply the most natural next thing to ask. To some degree, it almost seems cocky to respond "Yes!" because it almost feels like saying: obviously I have this whole parenting thing under control, parenting books are merely gathering dust at our house and our child is basically raising herself. For the record, I did not feel 100% ready to go to sleep-away camp, or high school, to surf Desperados in Fiji or really to have my first or second child, and yet here we are: totally, sometimes dully, fine. 

I have, however, struggled with anxiety and depression from time to time despite living a life I wholly love, appreciate and enjoy. I feel like it might be obvious in an internet space wallpapered with pictures of me enjoying these activities to say that surfing and skateboarding are two of my main coping strategies in life. A therapist once told me that anxiety is more future oriented and depression is commonly associated with feelings about the past. Surfing and skateboarding always bring my focus right to the wall in front of me. They are the best therapy. The thing is, I like to be sweating in cold water, even bleeding on hot concrete. I want to feel afraid and then the satisfaction of overcoming that fear. I want to feel busted wide open by life and what it means to live it. When you are pregnant, though, it's kind of frowned upon to huck yourself off ledges just for the rush. While I have still surfed throughout my pregnancies so far, I find myself needing other coping mechanisms to replace that adrenaline rush I thrive on, so I decided to outline a few of them here in case anyone out there needs them and also to keep the conversation about mental health and coping strategies open.

1. Home Improvement. Scott loves this coping strategy I've devised. What could be a better way to cap off a long hard day filled with meetings and a timed lunch break than opening your email to see a bunch of obscure Amazon purchases such as 'White Enameled Soap Dish', 'BEKVAM Wooden Utility Step' and 'XL New Zealand Sheepskin'? Or arriving home to a disassembled bookshelf painted by a possessed pregnant lady with the same painting skills as Abu from Aladdin?

In all honesty, although I am extremely novice when it comes to home design, I have found a great amount of pleasure painting things white, honing my shopping skills online and at thrift and antique stores and trying to understand how to make our space function as well as it possibly can for our growing family. We realized early on in my pregnancy that we most likely would't be able to move to a bigger home in our neighborhood, so I have justified nearly every last 'Cedar Garden Sign' purchase with the reasoning that it is cheaper than a new house!

I've gotten a lot of inspiration from the blog Reading My Tea Leaves (life in a tiny apartment series // baby proof series), Pinterest and Instagram. I tend to be a copy artist when it comes to most things related to style (I frequently buy the outfit the mannequin is wearing). I don't necessarily come up with original ideas in this field, but I have learned a lot from looking at pictures, understanding what I am repeatedly drawn to and slowly (rather than impulsively, like I used to) adding to our material possessions by making sure that we love and use nearly everything we own (and pass on what we don't). This house is about 1,000 square feet and there are about to be four of us occupying it, some creativity and pregnancy specific angst were required.

2. Gardening. I am approaching gardening similarly to how I approached having pet fish: enthusiastically, but with low expectations. I grew a bunch of carrots last fall and took pictures of them in all their shriveled-orange glory only to have them sit in the fridge for a week slowly resembling decomposing fingers. We're still in the beginner phase here, but I feel like gardening is the perfect low impact, relaxing outdoor activity I need right now. I love learning new things and I feel like it's a really fun, educational and hands-on activity for Avalon. She helps me water the whole garden after her nap most days. It's a calming activity for both of us to immerse ourselves in during those quiet and sometimes trying evening hours before dinner and Scott getting home.

3. Motherhood. Of course, once you have kids you nearly always feel soaked to the core in all things parenthood no matter how many date nights you go on or how much 'me time' you take. I didn't really know how to put this on my list of coping strategies, but I have certainly kept myself busy and enriched teaching Avalon to do more for herself lately. Potty training, washing her hands, brushing her teeth and setting the table have been a few of the areas I've spent time educating her on lately. This is probably hilarious to my family since they insist I have the worst breath of everyone and that I failed cotillion. I know teaching some of these tasks can seen tedious, but, aside from the frequent contact with human waste, I actually really enjoy the process of learning how to teach someone something new.

We all wear different hats in our lives. Sometimes I'm sporting knee-high socks to the grocery store to feel like a skater, but since that doesn't feel like it's at the forefront of my identity right now, I will happily visit the library in maternity clothes I saw on an instragram icon and embrace the excitement that is toting a toddler toilet around in your car. We can do this. 

+What are some of your coping strategies for pregnancy or otherwise?
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10 comments:

  1. Running!! I imagine it is the same adrenaline rush as you receive from skateboarding and surfing:)

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    1. That's a good one. I bet it is.

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  2. Oh I love this and I relate!! Piano has always been my #1 coping mechanism, but since I can't have my piano in our current home I've had to find other things to do so it doesn't feel like my hands have been cut off. Gardening and home decor are my main things right now too. I'm becoming a crazy plant lady, checking on my little container garden 10 times a day and adding new plants more than I should. I have eucalyptus branches in vases all over my living room and I spend my days redecorating in my head. Sometimes I feel like I'm going to drive myself crazy with these distractions from life, but I also love it.

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    1. That's so cool to know how to play an instrument. I can see that being very relaxing, for everyone involved. The plants and eucalyptus sound awesome. I am actually surprised by how much I love gardening. I guess it had to find me again at the right age (and stage of desperation).

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  3. Reading about how others are handling this same parenting season and seeing life from alternate perspectives. I never wish for anyone to feel less than amazing but I do appreciate a good dose of honesty and the continued dialogue that is "we are all doing our best". Your truths here are so appreciated; this really resonated with me. My daily mantra has become "I can do hard things", like move my whole family across the country and become the sole breadwinner and renovate a house while raising a one-year-old. I love this life and I chose it and it's hard.

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    1. Thank you so much! These kind of notes always encourage me to keep writing here. I love that mantra. What you've done is so admirable and absolutely, really hard. I love the last line of what you said. That this is what you chose, and it's hard, but you love it anyways.

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  4. When it all gets too much I hide in a book. Quite a lot of anxiety here from time to time. I imagine myself somewhere else, and live in a fantasy world for a bit. Especially useful before I go to sleep to turn off the anxious thoughts. Watering the garden is a lovely calming, zen thing to do isn't it. And I love to look out at it afterwards and see the soil all dark and damp and the leaves all green. Hope your strategies work for you, I know how hard it can be sometimes to see the sunshine through the clouds. Hugs, CJ xx

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    1. Books! Yes, a very good coping strategy. It is nice to escape to someone else's thoughts and world for a bit. I'm sorry you have to deal with anxiety too. At least now we live in a time when it's more acceptable to talk about and acknowledge it. <3

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  5. What paint color did you use on the shelf? I really like it!

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  6. I crochet. There is something so calming about making stitch after stitch, I can just feel the tension and angst melt away. I sometimes wonder if my home needs more crochet things in it, but then decide not to worry about that and just do what I love. I also love to try new recipes.

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