Do you fear something? Like really fear it? As in you live your life trying to avoid it? Spiders, snakes, death, public speaking….vomit? Yeah, I live with the last one. As far as I know, I’ve always had this. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t obsessing over who was sick, would I get it, when I last ate, should I be hungry, or if someone around me was looking a little…green. It’s all consuming and awful but really, I never put it into words.
Then, a former coworker sent me this podcast from “Stuff you should know” called “How vomit phobia works.”
I could have done that podcast. That’s my life.
I do all of the things it describes in the podcast, plus more. I only eat when my stomach is growling. I run when someone says they are sick. I wash my hands hard. I don’t use lotion regularly because the moisture might hold in the germs. I carry grocery bags around just in case. I didn’t want to get pregnant because of morning sickness. I can tell you every time I’ve thrown up. I am weird about food going bad or being undercooked. I plan my exits in case I, or someone else, gets sick. I always have a backup plan.
It takes OVER MY LIFE.
This time of year is really the worst. I feel like people around me are sick all the time and the risk of catching something that involves vomiting seems greatly higher. My kids are in school so basically we live in a germ dish. I want to avoid leaving the house for any reason. I want to hibernate until spring comes and the temperatures are warmer. I want to stay inside until the daylight lasts more than 12 hours. When these sorts of thoughts start surrounding me, I get very depressed. I truly do feel tired all the time. I’m sad. I’m cranky. I’m out of sorts.
Is it a cycle? Do I walk myself from anxiety and depression and back again?
Next week I’m starting with a new therapist. He focuses on some types of therapy that have been very successful in treating emetophobia and underlying anxiety. On the phone, he was also quick to address my depression, citing as a different issue.
But I have hope, finally.
Yesterday I felt downright giddy. Could this help me? If I treat the emetophobia, will the anxiety go away? If the anxiety goes away, what about the depression? Will those cloud that I’ve carried over my head for years finally be lifted? Could I finally be free from the clutches of my own brain?
It’s funny because as I thought of the word hope, I thought of my kids’ theme verse for school this year.
Jeremiah 29:11 – For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
The hope that I feel over this treatment, is so great. It’s almost so immense that I’m scared I’m hyping myself up for nothing. But think about the hope that God provides.
I have the hope (and the knowledge) that one day I’m going to be free from the grip for anxiety and depression. My life with be made perfect. I will not have to worry about any of this. It will all be amazing and glorious.
So while Monday might not be the day that all is made perfect, or even better, there is hope. I often forget how good hope can feel. I forget that it can pull me out of a dark place and make me feel good again. The hope we have in God is something that I should remember, and feel, everyday. I don’t often stop and think about that hope specifically, but this instance definitely reminded me what that hope should feel like.
So pray for me, if you do. Pray this new therapy can provide me relief and, hopefully, an earthly cure.
My husband was recently in China for 36 days.
We didn’t go with him. That means I was holding down the fort, including wrangling three girls and their ever-changing schedules, for that time. It was a lead-up to Christmas (think shopping, wrapping, organizing), two kids got pink eye, one threw up, we took a 12-hour each-way road trip, the dog pinch a nerve in his neck and (because of the pain pills) pooped all over my living room. Plus there was dance class, art club, morning handbells, band concerts, a preschool concert, lunches to pack, homework to help with and then, for good measure, we had a snow storm.
However, it would have sucked whether my husband was there or not. Why? Because parenting is hard!
Sure, having someone to help juggle the load, tag in when things get tough and make sense of 5th grade math is nice. I would never happily let my husband head to any foreign country for 36 days, but that happens and we make it work.
As he was getting ready to come home, everyone would ask me “Are you ready to peace out to the nearest hotel and spend some time by yourself?” Sure, but I’m ready to do that any day. What mom isn’t? There were some days when I would think about his first day home. I dreamed of laying face-down on our bed and screaming my stress into the mattress. I hoped that knowing he was home would ease the ulcer that was forming in my stomach.
The thing is, I knew he was coming back.
After I started writing this blog, I stumbled upon this: FYI: You are not a single mom if you are married
When can you call yourself a single-mom? When you’re single and unmarried, raising children. Full stop.
Husband gone 5 out of 7 nights a week for work? Not a single mom.
Husband works nights and you work days? Not a single mom.
Husband doesn’t lift a finger around the house to cook, clean, or care for the kids? Not a single mom.
Husband is included in any of your vernacular when describing your relationship status? Not. A. Single. Mom.
They are right. Despite the fact that my husband was 7,000 miles and a 13-hour time difference away, I wasn’t a single mom and I certainly wasn’t doing it alone.
He took just about every phone call from me, even giving me instructions on starting the snowblower at 2 a.m. his time. He video chatted with me as I cried over the dog at the emergency vet. He responded to my late-night texts and kept tabs on me as I made my way to the East Coast solo. He took early morning calls from me when our middle daughter was in a mood and I couldn’t deal.
I have that.
People tell me all the time about their husband’s business trips years ago. There were no cell phones, no Internet and they were almost completely out of touch. My husband wasn’t deployed. He was coming home.
While my “job” is a wife and mother, there’s no defined hours, no vacation time and I certainly don’t ask my husband to “take over” when he gets home. It’s a team effort. It’s a team game. Sometimes I carry the load, sometimes he does. I just like to be in control more often. So even when he is in charge, I like to supervise.
I’m a part-time work-from-home mom. I cover more of the day-to-day items. I cook, clean and oversee more of the scheduling. But he….he gives me the chance to be here when the kids get home from school. He gives me the chance to do preschool pick up. He gives me the chance to help the kids with projects. He gives me this life.
And for that, I can’t be more thankful.