Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Getting adequate sleep will help new mom deal with stress
Orlando: At the moment, most of my life is a shambles. My husband of 16 years has been unemployed for the last 2 1/2 years.
We had a baby earlier this year, never dreaming when we got pregnant that he would still be unemployed.
We've just moved in with his mother, who is 83 and deaf as a rock, forcing me to yell at her to have a simple conversation and leaving me unable to sleep for more than a few hours at a stretch until her blasting TV wakes me up. (She won't consider a hearing aid, because "they're a waste of money and don't work.")
I'm dissatisfied with my job (although thankful I have one) and looking for an opportunity to move on.
The one bright spot in my life is my daughter, who is my joy and my passion. However, I went through quite a trauma during her delivery, ultimately spending two weeks in the hospital, and I haven't quite gotten back to myself.
I'm venting a lot at my husband, who already blames himself and is being treated for depression. I make sure I apologize, but I am mad at him and tired of being mad at him. I've told him this too.
People keep asking me how I'm doing and how I'm adjusting to all the changes. I try to minimize or put a humorous spin on my angst, but really I'm just tired of dealing with it all. I want to curl up someplace calm and quiet with my girl and ignore the rest of the world.
I plan on bringing this up with my doctor, but I was wondering if you had any advice before then.
Carolyn: As I read your question, I was looking for the terrible, and what I saw was mostly the annoying and stressful — which is good news. Your husband's unemployment is, of course, the linchpin, and you're both understandably going to feel stressed unless and until there's some kind of resolution there.
However, you have shelter, you have your income, you have each other, you have your beautiful baby, and you have at least the promise that your health will return in due time.
Put all that together, and the most terrible thing I see is that you're not sleeping. That one area of deprivation has the power to drain you of the resources you need to deal with the other stresses and annoyances, be it showing patience with your mother-in-law, taking the long view with your job, being supportive of your husband, healing from childbirth, everything.
Please direct the energy you have — or, better, some of the energy your husband wishes he were taking to work every day — and address the blaring TV problem. Earplugs, headphones, changing rooms, soundproofing, white noise, a timer for the TV?
Brainstorm till something works, then sleep, then think more clearly about your circumstances.
The unemployment issue may seem like it's just about finding work, but it also means your husband has time, and time means opportunity. For what? That's the question you want to answer, when you're rested and ready to.