I am a mess. A total, complete, disaster of a woman. Luckily, I am also very loved. My husband has the patience of a saint, and my daughter learned that sarcasm is an excellent way to redirect my wandering brain. All that love doesn’t change the fact that I would lose my head if it wasn’t attached. I “dur-dur-dur” my way through just about every day, and somehow I come out in 1 piece and my loved ones are usually fed and in okay condition. This is a little strange to me some days, but it has continued to work for several years. Somehow, I muddle through.
Just after high school, one of my best friends told me I was the “dumbest smart person” he’d ever met. This was not meant to be harsh. In fact, it was freakin’ hilarious at the time he told me. I just thought he was being himself and giving me crap like always, at the time. It wasn’t until several years later, when my husband said almost the exact same thing, that I realized there may be some truth to it. Again, that situation was funny and my husband also gives me a lot of crap, but it triggered a thought in me, that maybe it wasn’t too far from the truth. I am in fact, pretty “book” smart. But when it comes to getting my life together? I must have missed that train.
I love learning and trying new things, but daily life always seems to get the better of me. I lose my train of thought regularly. Words that should be easily recalled are off doing their own thing instead of being present when called upon. Keeping track of a to-do list is nearly impossible, and if it weren’t for the invention of smart assistants, I’d be worse off than I am right now. I can’t remember squat. This leads me to look like a total buffoon on many occasions. Like I said, I’m a hot mess.
It’s not even that I haven’t experienced a lot, or that I’m naïve. It’s not that I can’t be in tune or that I am always wandering around aimlessly. I just lose things that shouldn’t be easily lost or forgotten. My train is constantly on multiple tracks and it get’s lost in the maze. While I feel like I’m making progress on some thought or project, it isn’t until I look back later and realize that I’m just really good at treading water. I won’t drown, but I don’t swim either.
You see, I suffer from brain fog, bad. It wasn’t until a year or so ago that I found out that I have a few underlying conditions that exacerbate my already compromised brain function. As I have said previously, PCOS is a constant bane to my existence. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is a trip (we’ll go into that deeper in another blog soon, I promise). Couple that with endometriosis and you have an ever bitter combination for brain function. I also admitted to myself lately that I have always fought depression and anxiety, something that my doctor helped me admit and finally treat, for which I am eternally grateful. This all feeds my failing brain capacity.
So what’s my point? My point is, it gets easier if you surround yourself with love, and take steps to address it. I’m still a hot mess, some days much worse than others, thanks to ever undulating hormone levels. However, there are a few things that help me, and might help you too.
Regular Sleep Schedule
I argued with myself about this one for a long time. My meds were “wonking” my sleep schedule. My daughter didn’t want to go to bed when I did, then I’d catch my second wind and it would all be over. My husband wanted to go to bed before or after me and I prefer we go to bed at the same time (I sleep better). All these excuses were just that: excuses. As soon as I started with a regular bedtime and a regular wake up time, I started to feel better. Be careful not to over or under sleep because that defeats the whole thing. Experiment a bit. I found that 7-9 hours works best for me. If I go over that, I feel like I need to keep sleeping longer, and under that, I’m a caffeine addict with an anger issue.
According to UCDavis article, hydration and brain function go hand in hand. Your brain is 75% water, so it would make sense that starving it of it’s base make-up would have some not so fun effects. I found this to be true myself. I drink at least 80 oz of water a day. The National Institutes of Health have a handy guideline of how much water you should be drinking based on your age. Of course, they keep it standardized and don’t take age (everyone over 18 is considered adult) or activity levels into account with the basic guidelines, but it should go without saying that if you are more active, you need to hydrate more. I might be going to the bathroom more than before, but my fatigue and brain fog both dissipate when I stay super hydrated. Again, it’s not a cure all, but it definitely helps to have several building blocks in this structure when you’re a hot mess and might forget one every now and then.
Let’s not fuss about how we get our vitamins, ok? Some people have the time and energy to prep fresh food regularly. I applaud that, but I am NOT that. On top of that, thanks to my lovely body chemistry and whacked hormones, I am sorely vitamin B and D deficient. So I start my day with a B-complex and a couple of Caltrate. Occasionally I have to take iron and my doctor has suggested fish oil, though I have yet to incorporate that one (I don’t like taking fish oil). I wash that all down with a couple of glasses of water first thing in the morning, followed by some kind of breakfast. Breakfast could be a frozen breakfast sandwich, oatmeal, or if I’m feeling really adventurous, I will cook omelets or french toast.
Depression & Anxiety Meds
If you can’t make your own serotonin, store bought is fine.~My Favorite Murder
This one may be a figuratively hard pill to swallow. But seriously, seek help. If you don’t like therapists exactly, that’s ok. I don’t either. Talk to your primary doctor or your gynecologist. They are there to help you just as much, if not even more. I say more because they have insight into your body chemistry, medical history, hormone fluctuations and what not that a therapist doesn’t. Have a casual conversation with your doctor about how you feel. No, not how you think you’re supposed to answer, but how you actually feel. Up until about a year and half ago, I had no idea what kind of toll anxiety was actually taking on me. Thanks to my Gyn, I have a better grasp of it.
Always save the best for last, right? Patience is the most important part of pulling yourself together. Even if you fell apart overnight, it will take some time for everything to come back together. Still, when it does come back together, it may not quite resemble what it looked like before. Surround yourself with love and patience, from yourself and the people around you. A good friend or significant other is a great place to lean. True love and true friendship are there to support these kinds of things in particular. Find your “tribe” (I hate that term, but it is what it is.) Your tribe is the people that you can ask for help, be it taking the kids for a couple of hours, catching up on the cleaning, or just good ol’ venting.
Being a hot mess is not easy. Getting yourself pulled together isn’t easy. IT’S NOT EASY. And that’s ok. You hear me? IT’S OK TO BE A HOT MESS! Do what you can. If it means “eating some humble pie” as my husband says, so be it. Admit to your failings. If you have the right people around you, they will help. If you don’t, it’s time to find the right ones. If writing in your date planner eats away at your soul but it’s the only thing that keeps you from missing appointments, DO IT. I used to think I could remember everything. After admitting I was wrong about that, I found this handy little feature on my smart phone (you might know about it) that TELLS me I have something I’m forgetting. It’s quite lovely, but I had to put my pride aside before I found the resources to help with that issue.
You can in fact be a hot mess and still not be a burden on other people OR YOURSELF. Just take the steps to eliminate what parts of the disaster you can. Admit you can’t do it all. Ask for help. Start the process of righting your sinking shipwreck. It might still be a shipwreck, but it will be a well managed shipwreck. That counts for something.