My Life Lately…
Hi friends! It’s me, here to tell you that I’m alive and well. When I last left you, I was taking some time off of the blog to kickstart the summer with my family. And while I have been doing just that, I felt that I owed you a life update to explain a bit about what’s been going on behind the scenes for me. So hold on tight because there’s a lot to share…
Bringing My Sleep Issues Home
In April, I went on a trip to Italy with some DIY Playbook readers and I ended up having to fly home early due to a four-day bout of insomnia. You can read all about that saga right here.
When I returned, I thought that I would be back to normal and feeling good in no time. I chalked the sleep issues up to jet lag that morphed into sleep anxiety and figured that now that I was home, with my family, and sleeping in my own bed, things would be fine. Well, my insomnia returned about a week later and I ended up going another two nights with zero minutes of sleep. It was really scary, physically debilitating, and honestly, pretty traumatic.
I had gone from having no sleep issues in my entire life (I was an easy 8-9 hours a night kinda gal) to being an insomniac overnight. What was going on?
Seeing Doctors & Specialists
I immediately went into problem-solving mode (my specialty) and lined up appointments with my general practitioner, a neurologist, a sleep psychologist, and my functional medicine doctor. In retrospect, this was not the best idea because I was getting conflicting advice from each of these professionals and it made me even more anxious about sleep.
Dealing with Anxiety
After a few weeks of poor sleep and a lack of a concrete game plan, I decided to work closely with my general practitioner since she knows me and my health history the best. She diagnosed me with a general anxiety disorder. When I look back, I think, wow…it was so clear. Of course, I have anxiety. I am someone who is literally on the move constantly just go, go, going. How did I not realize? I think it took chatting with an outside professional to really see it for myself.
I’m now taking anti-anxiety meds (Lexapro) and starting to feel a lot better and more grounded. The meds take about 4 weeks to really start working, and there are some side effects in the beginning, but overall I’m so happy that she put me on this path to feel better. You guys know I don’t shy away from hard topics here and I wanted to be upfront about all of this. Mental health issues aren’t talked about enough and I want this to be a safe space where other women out there can feel less alone.
Wrapping My Identity In My Productivity
All my life I’ve been an achiever and an ambitious person. And this has served me well throughout my life. It started with trying to be the best student in high school and being involved in every club and extracurricular. It evolved into a busy life as a news reporter and later I started this blog because my day job just wasn’t challenging enough. Since then, I’ve filled my calendar with running a business, neverending house projects, and two children.
But, I’ve noticed that I’ve wrapped up so much of my identity in my productivity. My worth has been based on a completed to-do list every day. I was addicted to being in hustle mode. What kind of life is that?
Reaching Burn Out
I’ve chosen to see this sleep “issue” as a wake-up call. It was my body literally crying out for help to slow the f down. For the past five years, I have been in constant motion. I was so wrapped up in trying to start a family and dealing with the trauma of multiple miscarriages. My business partner left. We bought this house and immediately started renovations. Then, I had Rory. More home projects followed. Then, I had Ellis. More home projects continued. And, all the while, I’ve been doing a full-time job with only two full days of childcare. It’s been a lot. Even during the vacations and breaks that I scheduled, I was still always using my “rest time” to catch up and keep things moving forward.
And I’m not here to make excuses. I’m certainly not a doctor saving lives or anything. I put myself in this position of constant movement and this go, go, go attitude. I’ve barely sat still to really check in with myself and see how I’m doing. And when I did accept the silence, I didn’t love how I felt. I was burnt out. Exhausted. Barely holding it together.
What’s Helping Me
Putting the brakes on work has been really transformative for me. The first couple of weeks were hard. I’m used to jampacked days with a to-do list that I live and die by. It was hard to just take time to actively rest. To read. To go to a yoga class. To go for a walk just because. To go out to lunch with a friend. It took a few weeks of practice to get into it.
Now, I’m feeling really really good. I’ve started going to a yoga class three times a week, I’m outside as much as possible, and I see a therapist weekly. (I alternate between my personal therapist and our couples therapy.) I’ve slowed down to be present with my family. Like really, really present. Not simultaneously wiping the kitchen counters and cleaning up books on the floor. Like actually being there with them and letting the mess just be. It’s been pretty glorious.
I’ve also been reading a lot and I found a few books to be helpful. The Perfectionist’s Guide to Losing Control, How Are You, Really? and Present Over Perfect all feel like they were written directly for me. I highly recommend them if you, too, struggle with slowing down and letting go.
My Gameplan For The Summer
My original plan was to come back to the blog after the 4th of July. But, it turns out, after 10 years of sharing my life on the internet, I needed a longer reprieve from the constant demands of this job. I’ll be extending my out-of-office until at least mid-August. I don’t have a concrete return date just yet.
I do want to emphasize that I will be back. This is not goodbye forever. I love this job and this community and I really truly enjoy working. Not to mention, this is actually my job and my family depends on this income. Plus, I have an employee who depends on me too. So, I won’t be stopping work forever. Instead, a nice summer sabbatical is just what the doctor ordered.
My Work Plan Moving Forward
In the fall, my kids will both be in school full-time, so I will have a lot more time for myself and for work. I plan to keep my usual posting schedule and my daily stories over on Instagram. I want to keep a healthy balance of work and time for me, so it will be a constant work in progress. When I get back in August, we will have lots to catch up on. We’ve been doing a little house hunting (oh boy!) and I’ve been doing some small (and rewarding) projects here and there.
Until then, thank you for your support today and over the past decade of The DIY Playbook. It’s not easy sharing all of this on the internet for anyone to read, but so many of you readers feel like friends and I wanted to be completely honest with you. Plus, I want anyone else out there struggling with anxiety and a death grip on their to-do list to know that they’re not alone. Life has so many ups and downs and some chapters are tougher than others. This has been a challenging chapter for me, but I’m confident that I’m on a good path now.
I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m a Chicago gal teaching you how to design, DIY, and maintain your home…by yourself! Learn more about me right here.