Scary Septembers

Scary Septembers

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

These weekly updates share life with OCD as part of my Mental Work Health project to reduce stigma around mental health, especially at work.

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.

Manage your subscription