Eliminate and Concentrate

Eliminate and Concentrate

I first heard this phrase more than 15 years ago from a SAHM (she eventually had 4 boys), a wife of a pastor. This lovely woman, I shall call her L, has a sparkling, warm personality and is blessed with a beautiful singing voice. I had the privilege of having her as one of my mentors in my teenaged years, and there have been many times in my life where I still draw on the words of wisdom that she has shared with me.

In the past couple of months, I have been humbled and brought to my knees. I have had no choice but to learn to Eliminate and Concentrate just to survive. I am fighting pregnancy blues that are bluer than they should be, enough for my doctors to express concern on more than one occasion. We discussed medication but decided that it was better to use natural means to help myself. Many women would have experienced bouts of crying or feelings of despair during pregnancy, and I was telling myself that things are normal. But when these dark feelings were prolonged, and crying episodes started to happen daily, some lasting for more than an hour, I instinctively knew that I had a problem, even if not yet a serious one.

After one particularly emptying crying episode, I had a long talk with Roboman, and it that conversation, I managed to clarify some of the fuzz in my head and come to terms with all the things that caused this downturn in my well-being. One can always blame pregnancy hormones of course, and they are definitely part of the equation. However, I wanted to acknowledge all the other things that happened as well, and understand in a clearer way how they have impacted me. I needed to be clear so that I could finally grasp these issues by the horns and work through them as best as I can.

The difficult start in this pregnancy coincided with major changes in my workplace. I had a new boss, and my team was merged with some others. There were serious challenges and responsibilities that emerged. At my seniority, I keenly felt the weight on my shoulders and just as with every task that I put my mind to, I wanted to give the team-building effort my best shot. I didn’t realise then that my body could no longer take the usual stresses I put on it, and the busy seasons of Christmas and Chinese New Year took an additional toll on me. I was managing home and work on my own, with a part-time cleaning team coming in only once a week.

Somewhere between Christmas and Chinese New Year was when Bubbles started pre-school. I suddenly had to wake up even earlier to prep her breakfasts and morning snacks, and ferry her to school. On the days I work, I was making 5 trips every morning. Home-School, School-Office, Office-School, School-Home/Mum’s place, Back to office. I still cooked and cleaned on the days I was at home, and had to manage important projects at work. I had very little sleep and persistent family crisis issues pushed me into a sobbing mess several times. My personal life became non-existent, and as I struggled to come to terms with it, I constantly reminded myself that perhaps it is a season to Eliminate and Concentrate. I stopped online activities that kept me busy (and happy) for most of the last couple of years. I no longer wrote or read blogs, and even gradually stopped responding to blog-related emails (I’m sorry). I just couldn’t. I also stopped initiating socials although I did my best to meet up with people who mattered most.

I found it increasingly difficult to be positive, and at the same time felt guilty many times towards friends and family for being a downer when sharing my thoughts and comments. I made an effort not to talk about the real issues that were bothering me, glossing over them when I couldn’t help myself. As a result, no one person knew about all the struggles I was facing. Snippets of issues perhaps, but not as a whole.

There were the occasional sparks of course. On the days I felt brighter and more energetic, some of my old self peeked through. I put on a brave front (to most), immersed myself in new recipes and pretty things, and made some effort to work on the relationships that matter to me. But somehow things were not meant to be. Stomach flu hit the family one after another. I found myself cleaning up puke and poop for days, and retching non-stop myself. I felt so lousy and desperate to get out of the situation I was in. Even Roboman was floored by what was happening to me, and said I really needed to get out of this funk that has lasted for months.

Through the horrendous stomach flu episode, I was also acutely aware that I needed to prep for our new domestic helper that was coming in, and had to meet looming work deadlines. There was so much to be done on top of what was already happening. Everyone was saying get help for goodness’ sake, but let me share that when circumstances do not allow one to ask for help, there is simply no choice but to do things yourself. At my 27th week of pregnancy, my doctor put her foot down when she found that I lost 2kg. I was asked to rest for the week at home. I was shaken because I hadn’t realised just how much I weight I was losing, and felt so guilty when the doctor, being careful, did an additional scan to make sure Bun was growing well and that water levels in me are alright. I’m so thankful Bun is alright despite me.

So here I am now.

I’m not out of it yet.

I’m still embracing the Eliminate and Concentrate mantra just so that what I focus on the most important things. Those that cannot be dropped no matter what:

1. My relationship with God (a struggle perhaps, but an essential one)
2. My marriage
3. My relationship with Bubbles
4. My pregnancy, and Bun
5. My word. All that I’ve said I would do, I would. No more perhaps, but also no less.

The part of me that used to be full of multi-tasking energy reminds me to make time for exercise, and I try to swim regularly. It helps, this exercise thing, although finding time is a real challenge.

I allow myself to find pleasure in beauty. Dressing up and looking nice makes me feel better.

I choose Nature whenever I can. Walks in parks, meals by the sea.

I still have crying episodes, in fact, just one before I wrote this.

I am sorely disappointed that we will not be going on a much-needed babymoon break.

There are still major stressors in my life that I haven’t found solutions for.

I still have a whole lot to achieve and complete in the next couple of months.

I know that with the blues I am now experiencing there is a higher chance of me getting post-natal depression. And I will have to prepare for and fight against that.

I am more aware. I am more centred. I have analysed the issues that brought me to where I am today. I know where I should stop short of pushing my limits. I recognise and believe that this is a phase I will ride out. I will get back to my old self at some point.

I’ve written all these down to further clarify my thinking (as fuzzy as it might still seem to be!), to apologise to all who have been affected by how I have been the last couple of months, and to reach out to others who understand how I am feeling because of similar personal experiences. It is ok to Eliminate and Concentrate if we need to.

This is my song for now:

God never moves without purpose or plan
When trying His servant and moulding a man.
Give thanks to the LORD though your testing seems long;
In darkness He giveth a song.

I could not see through the shadows ahead;
So I looked at the cross of my Savior instead.
I bowed to the will of the Master that day;
Then peace came and tears fled away.

Now I can see testing comes from above;
God strengthens His children and purges in love.
My Father knows best, and I trust in His care;
Through purging more fruit I will bear.

O Rejoice in the LORD
He makes no mistake,
He knoweth the end of each path that I take,
For when I am tried
And purified,
I shall come forth as gold.

- Ron Hamilton

32 comments:

Kris said...

I'm a new reader to your blog. I've yet to go through all your posts so I don't 'know' you very well.

But, you moved me with this post of yours. I may not know what you're going through right now (I don't think anyone will) but I would like to encourage you to press on, sister! May His grace be abundant in your life and that of your family. Give your burdens to Him and be at rest :) I'll pray for you and I believe you'll come out of this victorious!

I read this article the other day and I found that so many of us really need this :) http://www.thebettermom.com/2012/03/seeking-stillness/

And if you can, do try to breastfeed when you've delivered cos the happy hormones triggered through breastfeeding should prayerfully/hopefully help with keep postnatal depression at bay - http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/26/weaning-depression-link-breastfeeding-postpartum-depression_n_1301233.html?ref=fb&src=sp&comm_ref=false

San said...

*Hugs*

It's never easy being pregnant, much less being pregnant while having another baby (or 2) out there, coupled with work and family and all...

I've missed your writing, and have even come by a few times to see if you've put up any more posts since the last. Am happy you have. ;)

My prayers are with you, in this final trimester, it will all just come together somehow, and you will find both healing and peace in Him.

missustay said...

Thanks for sharing these. Now I know sometimes I get very emotional or agitated because I am feeling overwhelmed and not just because of pregnancy hormones.

I'm still learning how to juggle the duties of being a FTWM, wanting to be there for my child all the time, having a social life, etc. I neglect my health along the way and allowed myself to succumb to this dreadful cough for 4 months. I hope #2 doesn't get affected too much by all these.

Parenthood is tough. Do share whenever you feel up to it and if it makes you feel better. Hugs, babe.

Anonymous said...

i hop from 'imp' and would like to give you a hug. you will find your feet again, i am sure. take care. i will whisper a prayer for you to have more strength to ride this through. -misti
God will make a way

Emily said...

Hi Corsage,
Feel so touch after reading your post. Do take great care of yourself, wish you all the best. Do relax, have sufficient rest and do things that can cheer you up when you r feeling down or stressed - like shopping, eating maybe?

God bless!

Yvonne@ Beadsyy's Diary said...

Hi Sharon, 1st of all it's nice to read your post again. Like Sans, I do sometimes drop by your blog to check if you do have any updates. I find it strange that you have kind of "vanished" from the blogosphere as you used to be blogging actively.
I'm so sorry to hear about what you have gone through and I can totally feel and understand as I did want through a bout of mild depression some time back when the demands of life got too stress up. Thanks for putting your heart out here to share what you are going through. Do continue to communicate with your love ones and keep a positive mind. =) I know it's not easy but this too, shall pass. for your baby, and family, pls stay strong and positive. And when in doubts, read some positive mummies' blogs help. last but not least, take care my dear friend. *hugs*

Anya & Arielle's mom said...

Hi Corsage,

Was wondering things were okay on your side.

Where possible, do add you yourself as one of your concentration too. I'm going through a rough patch mothering my girls now (lo and behold, I'm now mother of two!), and today, I decided to go easy on myself and take a breather as much as i can. I have to admit it did wonders to my soul. I find myself able to tackle their issues with much more effectiveness and am calmer.

Will keep you in prayers, that you may rely on Him, find rest in Him, and may His joy be with you. Hugs!

Will

Domesticgoddess said...

Big hugs to you, Corsage! I think I can understand part of what you are going through and just want to lend some support here.

I had pre-natal depression for two out of my three pregnancies and possibly post-natal after all three deliveries. One of the things that I've learnt is the importance to acknowledge the possibility of its existence and seek help, be it professional or just from friends and your social network.

I find it very useful to talk to people about my feelings, thoughts and problems, even if they can't really help solve my problems. I used to feel bad about opening up, but later I realize that many friends (and even strangers) are more than happy to be able to lend a listening ear. You will soon know if they don't genuinely care. So don't feel bad about being a downer.

Lastly, don't be hard on yourself. I know this can be a tough one because I tend to do this to myself too. Which is also one of reasons why people like me can be more prone to pre-natal and post-natal depression. Concentrate on the most important and if you have to let go of something else, so be it.

You are welcome to drop me an email (address on my blog) or leave a comment on my blog with your contact (I won't publish it) anytime if you need a listening ear or a crying shoulder. I have been there THRICE so I can understand.

Be strong, dear!

xoxo

BeanBean said...

Hey babe, so glad to hear from you tho I'm so sorry to hear how rough it's been for you. While I don't think I can say I know what it's like to be struggling with depression, I think all of us know how it feels to be overwhelmed. And you do sound like you have a lot on your plate. All I can say is that you are in my prayers. Take care you.

celcilia_tjioe said...

Hi, Corsage!
I've been hopping into your blog constantly and didn't find any update from you until today.
Can't comment or even come out to advise you on this pregnancy issues, but I hope that everything will run smooth, be it the pregnancy, be it the Bubbles, be it the work, be it everything. Keep hang on there, babe! :)

Chen Chen said...

Hi. I only know you through the virtual world, but I can feel your pain.

I went through a similar shitty stage with my second pregnancy. Bad bosses at work, 1 month of full-blown flu in the house which had my older girl puking up after every milk feed, having to send a new, but very reliable, helper back because they found out she was underaged - all during a peak season at work where I was clocking 12 hours workday plus bringing back work. I was also ill with the flu and was absolutely drained of all energy.

But I somehow made it through.

And I believe you will do. You are a strong woman, and a great Mummy.

Take care and *HUGS*

Clara said...

Relieved to hear your update.
Seek not the wisdom of why things happen, but be comforted that He is with you every step of the way.

Summerbliss said...

Hi hi

I have been reading your blog and when I check that there was no update for some time, I somehow got worried as I remem that u were preggy w no 2. M so glad to see your blog today again.

Life is full of ups and downs . I am facing a major problem in life right now in the midst of my pregnancy ( delivering this tues). I am also pressing on ahead like you with all that I can relying on our Savior daily. I just want you to know that like the set of foot prints he will carry u thru no matter what situation in our life we are going thru. Hugs !

Anonymous said...

ludnnowi ememortHello,

I've been following your blog for a while and like your style of writing. This post was especially moving and I just wanted to say that hope things work out in the best way for you.

I struggled with pre and post natal depression. Getting help and talking to those who are willing to listen certainly helps, sometime not so much for the advise you receive but rather for how it helps you figure out your own thoughts.

yAnn said...

Big hugs to you! Pregnancy in itself is already not easy, and you've also had to face all these challenges along the way.

But you are a brave and strong woman, and I believe that you can get through this. Sending my very best wishes to you and the family!

fernoftheforest said...

I never knew...a pity we are no longer cube mates. Let me know whenever you need someone to talk to ok?

June said...

Hi corsage, was just thinking abt u today...n so glad to read this post. I know you're going through heaps, and I can't even begin to imagine how much, but it's just heartening to know you're clinging on to our good Lord, and I just know that you're in good hands, in His hands I mean. Take care dear! :)

daphne said...

You have been dearly missed in this space babe. Much love and hugs from across the web.

Ai Sakura said...

I still do check your blog and fb every now and then to see if you are here. Sorry to hear about all this that's happening, but glad that you are staying strong and have a good support team behind you.

Take care dear. Big hugs.

Ai @ Sakura Haruka

Ing said...

Hi Corsage,
I pop by once in a while the past couple of months, and was wondering how you're doing as there's no update in this space. You're such a strong woman, to juggle so much for such a long period of time. You are never alone in this valley. God sees every tear you shed. He will never leave you nor forsake you. Hang in there. *hugs*

Ruth said...

Hi Corsage, I'm so glad to finally see your update. Was worried about you after the long silence. Thank you for sharing with us what you are going through, I know it's not easy. But with the grace of God and the support and love of your family and friends, you will make it through. Praying that God will fill your heart and mind with all things that are beautiful and positive and surround you in His light.

Cynthia said...

Hi
I'm glad that you wrote this blog to express yourself. This can be a great outlet for you esp if you are not keen on talking. There are plenty of listening ears and encouragement here for you. You have been doing a great job in juggling everything.
When I am going through dark times, I remind myself that:
1. There's always light at the end of the tunnel, just keep walking...
2. PUSH - Pray until something happen
Please know that there are people that are concern about you though we only know you vrtually :)

bookjunkie said...

Thank you for sharing your story. It's really brave and will help every woman out there who suffers from depression and stress and just feels alone in their suffering. I often feel overwhelmed myself with many of life's stresses...mostly from external sources that are hard to control.

bookjunkie said...

I was kinda worried about you when I did not see any post for some time and was hoping you're doing ok.

Rachel said...

Glad to see you back in blogosphere Corsage. I may not have experienced what wat are experiencing, but I do know how emotions can take us hostage at times.

Continue looking to God, and the hope in Christ. Even when all things turn dark, His love and promises will be the only thing that can see us through difficult times of our lives. God is always faithful, and His love will never fail.

Susan said...

Hi Corsage,
Thanks for baring your soul and sharing your struggles so openly. The first step is always to acknowledge the issue and then find ways to overcome it, one step at a time. I don't have the right words to comfort you but I know Father God is with you even through this very difficult journey as you are coping with pregnancy, family and all.
As women, we multi-task well but sometimes risks burning out before we know it. Do take your doctor's advise and rest well for yourself and bun. Think of happy thoughts and keep looking up to Him for strength when you can find none in yourself. And don't forget to surround yourself with people who love and care deeply for you. Hang on in there *hugs*

Jamie said...

Big hugs to u..
hope that everything will work out for u in the end, God bless you and your family!

judebabe said...

Thank you for taking time and share with us.

Hope you feel better soon.

Kelly said...

I'm so sorry to hear this, Im sure you have your family and friends rallying behind you for support besides us here too. Take care and be strong. Xx

bookjunkie said...

came back to read this beautifully written post. I am sure it's helped not only me but many people out there who feel the blues and just overwhelmed sometimes.

fibrate said...

Hi! Nice new look and great to see some update. Do post again soon. Can't wait to hear about your lovely girls :)

Corsage@A Dollop Of Me said...

Fibrate:
Hey I was pleasantly surprised to see your comment after not writing for such a long time. Glad you like the new look, and I've just written my very first post after the blog break. Hope to see you around!