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  • Carmen Graham

True Life: I have Adjustment Disorder Syndrome


Adjusting in NYC on my first maternity leave...by visiting my coworkers.



So let's be clear. In the spectrum of #issues and syndromes and disorders, I am incredibly privileged or blessed or fortunate or whatever terminology suits you best.


But, over the past 3 months, I took a plunge that I usually just reserved for phases and breakups. I started consistently seeing a therapist for the first time in my life. Not as a band aid to a fight with a friend or boyfriend, but to deal with ME–with the things that are deeper and harder to find unless you really go looking for them.


I won't belabor the point on how COVID and quarantine got to a lot of us, but the fact remains, diagnoses of anxiety and depression has sky-rocketed in people of all ages. And I thought I was one of them.


But then I had my first appointment with my newly minted therapist. And he said something towards the end of me literally emptying years of sh!t on him.


"I don't know you very well yet. But what I can tell you is that none of what you're telling me is new. What's new is you allowing yourself to feel it, talk about it and sort through it."



:: Mind. Blown. ::


Then he told me how we'd work on the things and went on. "For insurance purposes, I'm going to categorize what I'm hearing as Adjustment Disorder Syndrome. It doesn't mean you're sick. It means your life changed drastically very quickly."


And I felt heard. And seen. And all of the things I knew I had in my head all of a sudden clicked. Because I no longer was scared of them. And sure, it was for insurance purposes, but it has a name. And it makes so much sense.


For as long as I can remember, I've been go go go go. It's where I thrive (I tell myself) and where the great things in my life came from (career, my husband, my babies).


Mike and I met (after years of people saying we should meet and being SO RIGHT) in a hilarious story (seriously, it's so good) and 10 months later we were pregnant and 3 months after that we got married. He moved to NYC, at first into my tiny studio with our giant pitbull and occasionally babysitting my sister's daschund, 5 new jobs collectively and one move to Miami. Enter Christopher and Bob, same old pitbull, 3 daycares, aging parents and grandparents, and a global pandemic...YOU GET THE PICTURE.


But somewhere in going all the time, I didn't stop to check in. And then it's 8pm during said pandemic and there's a baby in my arms and a toddler running amok naked and my husband asking if we need Tylenol and a deck I have to finish before I go to sleep 4 or 5 hours later while watching the news with incredible (super late) societal upheaval to dismantle racism in our country and....where was I?


So I went into it with that feeling? Where am I?


Where am I as a mom and a wife?


Where am I as someone who loves working but doesn't want to be defined by her work?


Where am I in the process of learning and even more unlearning?


This month's theme is "Summer Cleaning" so for me, in a holistic sense, talking to a professional friend (as I like to call my therapist), has become that exercise. Cleaning out the crevices of my mind where maybe I haven't looked in a while. Stopping to inventory my beliefs, value systems and relationships and how I can be better but also be happier and more settled. And most importantly, not feeling guilty about taking time–a measly hour a week–to adjust.


It's a tough world out there, and like I started, I know even talking about this is a luxury. I don't have to worry about how to feed my family or whether my kids will come home safely after a run or any of the super serious things that plague real people in the world. That perspective helps and I keep it very present.


But it's all part of it, right? So if you take nothing else away from this writing it's this: Don't let another wave of anxiety or sadness or overwhelm take you over. Invest in yourself.


And make the appointment.



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