Scary Septembers

This week brought a renewed focus on the importance of tending to my mental health.

Maybe there’s something about this time of year. It seems that often in September, my OCD flares and I struggle a bit.

This past week, my mental health was rocked a bit, and I missed a couple days from work. The prior week, I had taken off Thursday and Friday to take care of the family while my wife and second daughter left to help plan a homeschool conference we participate in each year.

In the middle of that, I finally got one of my psychiatric prescriptions refilled after a few weeks being out.

The effects were…destabilizing.

As I started to write this, I thought I would go back to previous years in my blog and see what I found.

Almost exactly a year ago, I wrote:

In my therapy session last week, I confessed that I had been having doubts as to whether I really have OCD.

As I told my therapist this, she burst out laughing.

Let me just say from a professional perspective, you absolutely have OCD. You have severe OCD.

Just a few weeks prior to that article, I found that I had written about the challenge of taking care of the kids while my wife was gone:

The job of a stay-at-home parent is hard as hell. Substituting for that job a few days this past week was a good reminder of just how difficult it is. It gave me a renewed appreciation for all that my wife does to help our family and household run smoothly.

In 2021, I shared about a similar experience:

Being a stay-at-home parent is hard. Really hard.

I knew this was the case, and I have taken care of everyone before. But I don’t think I have ever managed everything for this long. I have always tried to be understanding and empathetic of how tired my wife is and how much she does in staying home with our kids, but it is a very different experience trying to pull it off myself.

Stay at home dad

I was struck at the similarities of my experiences over three years. Although I am happy to support my wife in participating in organizing the conference, I am also realizing the effect it has on me. I need to remember this next year, and plan accordingly.

As I shared this realization with my therapist, she pointed out something else for me to consider. Perhaps I continue to regularly struggle at the beginning of fall because of the summer. There are many reasons that the summer is hard for someone with OCD, and one thing I am not yet good at is emotional transparency.

I often have no idea how I am feeling about something in the current moment, and the effects tend to accumulate until reaching a breaking point.

So the lesson I am taking away from this past week is not that I need to fear the month of September. I am not doomed to repeat this endless cycle. Rather, the lesson is to be more mindful and present.

I need to feel what I feel. Right then.

As I get in touch with my actual emotions, I can start to process them. Instead of burying them, I can acknowledge them and lean into them.

Maybe you can too.

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