Look for the Helpers, Slay the Sludge..

If you had told me last year, that at the end of my 42nd year on this planet, I would be learning more about myself than I did when I was a teenager, I would have laughed. I would have thought, “Yeah, right” as I popped another daily dose of anxiety/depression medication and a handful of Advil.

If you had told me last year that I would be on a weight loss journey that would have some extreme valleys NOT laced with negative attempts at motivation..like “great job, but….you need to lose weight faster” “this is good..but, you need to do better” “yeah but, you’re not committed enough”..I would have quietly laughed as I sat in my chair watching the world rush by me for another day.

If you had told me last year that I would be seeing my path so much clearer. That I would be more equipped to battle the “sludge”, I would have thought it impossible.

But here I am. I am a Woman, Turning 43 this January. A wife to a hardworking man. A mother to a child with ADHD & Asperger’s. I struggle to remember tasks, keep my house clean or even remember to eat. I am overweight, overbooked and overly complicated in many ways both personally and professionally.

I am normal.

Yes, you read that right. Normal. Look around the world we live in. Every single person is battling something. Every single person looks, feels, fights different. THAT is Normal.

It’s funny, we always joke as parents, when you see or hear the kids yelling & carrying on, we’re not worried at all. It’s when they go silent we panic.

Adults are the same, we’re just in bigger shoes.

If you’re reading this and you’ve been struggling with anything, just know. You. Are. Not. Alone. In fact, if you didn’t struggle from time to time, I would stop and ask yourself, are you still moving forward? Are you complacent or stuck?

It was this question that allowed me to identify “The Sludge”.

The Sludge is something of a shadow. Not as happy as Peter Pan’s and not as menacing as the shadows that take you away in the movie Ghost. The Sludge is a shadow somewhere in-between that. It’s like all those feelings of pain, anger, stress, failure, insecurity, perfectionism, pride and self-doubt all came together to form, “The Sludge”.

The sludge is heavy and weighs down my chest, legs and body. The sludge is loud. The sludge is even scary sometimes, leading to thoughts of self-pity and remorse.

I have had moments where I’m sitting in my chair, laying in my bed or even sitting at my desk, where the world around me just feels super heavy. It all gets a little “blurry and slower”. Like I’m sitting there and can’t move. My mind is racing through a million scenarios that I need to accomplish and yet. I just sit there. I have literally been in my chair and my body was like, nope. You’re sitting here. You’re already late, you may as well just skip the entire day you had planned.

This is when sleep happens. I have slept through so much of my life out of anxiety, depression and guilt.

I am not telling you this because I am seeking a pity party. I’m telling you this because even though we all battle different things, sometimes there is safety in numbers. Sometime hearing that you are not alone in your worries, self-doubt and struggles, is exactly what you need to breathe in and take each first step.

In August, my son (10) was diagnosed with ADHD and Asperger’s. I have been battling for him since he was 4. 6 years that have felt like a lifetime of “Stop making assumptions” and “I know my son”. There were times as a mom I felt like I was screaming at a wall as loud as I could for others to see him like I did. After starting his journey with public school, I have watched my son grow in so many ways over the last 5 years. He has overcome and graduated out of every single delay and issue except two. Thanks to a behavioral evaluation by Dr. Jessica Lee here in St. Cloud, we finally got a diagnosis. She was like the CSI of my son. Add in a great pediatrician, Dr. Smith at Sartell Pediatrics, and we’re on a roll up and up!

As I have been digging into the diagnosis for my son, I’m finding all these parallels to myself. I’m literally having these unbelievable moments of clarity each day. I’m not just learning how my son’s thoughts and more work, but how MINE do. I am no longer just on a journey for my body, but for my mind as well.

Through this process I have been working with Valerie Carlson at Rejuv Medical for myself. She is not only my General Practitioner, but she works with me on hormones and more. We talked about the options of actually having me evaluated for ADHD myself. I never was as a child, but with all the parallels I’m seeing with my son, I’ve decided it’s time.

On Dec 7th, I will spend 4 hours with Dr. Jessica Lee. She is going to be the CSI of me. Whatever the outcome, I’m excited to have a new compass for my journey. This will be new armor to battle “The Sludge”.

Until then, I’m going to take each day one at a time. I’ve started to compartmentalize my tasks for the day. Setting a timer for 20 mins and doing as much work as I can non-stop. Sometimes that’s cleaning my house. Other times, it’s answering emails or scheduling music at work.

The sludge is still here, always swirling around. But I try to remember what Mister Rogers always said, “Look for the Helpers”. Look for the good. Remember the feeling when you accomplish even the smallest of tasks. Let that carry you through the next. Become selfish and greedy with your accomplishments. Stack them high. Some days that will be two accomplishments. Some days, ten. but either way, they are each helpers. And sometimes, it just takes one to get you moving in the right direction.

I am blessed to be an ambassador as well for the LIVIN Foundation here in Minnesota. We have so much life to live. It’s time to Start the Conversation, Listen with Intent, Get Busy #LIVIN.

If you or someone you know is struggling with negative thoughts of self-harm or suicide, you are not alone and there is someone waiting to be your helper right now. Dial or Text 988 now.


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