It's happened. My family has officially driven me crazy... or crazy enough to go out therapist shopping. Insurance only covers twenty visits per year, so I figure I'd interview potential mental health counselors before letting them charge me and my insurance for actual therapy.
Just how I got to the point of seeking professional help shouldn't be any surprise. Take one Asperger's kid, take one husband recovering surgery and stir in two sisters, each with their own complex set of issues. Once that's simmering, add in the last sister dying of brain cancer. Let that simmer for three months, stirring constantly. Finally, top with crazy and abusive ex-husband vying for attention, and bake in a well lawyered casserole dish for the next year. Serve with thousands upon thousands of dollars.
With your feet, during this process, get some hamsters, some fish and some cats... try to keep them alive. Forget about them liking you because you don't sit still long enough for them, but you will pretend they understand you when you ask "Did I feed you today?".
There are maybe four people in this world I'd trust to do therapy... except two aren't taking clients anymore, one is a complete conflict of interest considering our going for adoption and one isn't technically a therapist (but should be). That leaves the other 30 candidates in the provider handbook.
I feel like a puddle of goo on the floor these days, when I'm not trying to be therapist-mom to the kid, nurse-wife to the hubby and social worker-sister to my sisters. Everyone is so darn negative or obstinate lately that it's actually becoming contagious. I'm normally positive, chipper and "half full, baby" (as my husband always says). Not so much lately. Not when everyone is all "OMFG, it is the end of the world that [insert trivial thing here]!!!" Life is awful. There's not enough. We're out of something. Something broke. You haven't... [insert non-priority action here]. Things were better when... life sucks now because... I could go on and on.
When that's added in with the general stress of daily life, Chiari Man, Aspie Boy, my sister's constant urge to add extra caffeine my coffee, and the trigger of dealing with the ex-husband (even if its second-hand), I find myself having the beginnings of panic attacks. Thankfully, I have the skill set and the support to help keep those at bay. My hubby knows panic attacks. He knows if I say I feel it coming on, I'm serious. And he's afraid that if I break down, he'll be left alone with the whole house and all it's responsibilities.
My parents and in-laws have been excellent supports, too. Both set of parents seem to have this sixth sense when I need to hear something positive. My mom-in-law has the uncanny ability to read me like a book, even over the phone. I have the strange feeling that if I ever did go into full-fledged panic attack mode, she'd call or show up or something. And she'd probably have ice cream, too. I could write an entire post, novel even, about her awesome mom-ness. My mom is great, too, but she's a thousand miles removed from it all. Even still, my parents sent me "tell us if you need us to come down there and take over for a weekend" email the other day. I told them I have to learn to cope on my own, but if I have too much trouble, I send for them.
Yet, there are times like these when we need perspective from the outside. When you are in the trenches, you need to communicate with someone removed from the battlefield so you don't end up digging your way right to the enemy. Someone who can load you up with skills and tools to keep heading in the right direction so you can win war, even if you lose some battles.
When talking about this to my family doctor, she nearly fell of her little doctor's stool while holding back tears of joy when I said, "We are just not born equipped to deal with so much stress and I feel I need extra help". I gathered that she doesn't have many patients ask about emotional and mental health care. I imagine she does a lot of referring, but no one really volunteers for a list of counselors because she was just about speechless.
I need help redefining my boundaries, dealing with a stressful life and re-learning how to react to certain people in certain situations. My skills are rusty, to put it bluntly. And by-god, I need to dedicate some time just for me, all about me, for the sake of me and my family. After all, what good am I to anyone if I'm not getting my needs met? I'm no martyr and I'm no Scarlett O'Hara. I'm just a girl... who wants to keep thriving under pressure and model the behavior appropriate for our current circumstance.
And dammit. I want to stay positive and cheerful. Even if I have to create an army of ninja hamsters to reinforce my personal boundaries.