Why I Need a Sticker Chart to Get Through the Day

3 years ago

Yesterday I went to the school supply store and bought a sticker chart. It's one of those big poster boards where teachers usually track the progress of their students, or parents use to track potty training. This poster, though, is for me.

Credit: abbybatchelder.

I decided I am at a point right now where I am so unmotivated that I need something very concrete to help me get through the day. I went through all of the activities I thought I would like to accomplish on a great day and listed them. Among others, I have listed showering, dressing a child, preparing a meal, and doing laundry.

Even now, it seems so preposterous that I am in need of such a list. I mean, I'm a capable woman, a college graduate. A teacher even. How have I fallen so low that I can't seem to keep on top of dressing and feeding my own children?

My postpartum depression and anxiety have picked me apart, brick by brick by brick. Before the depression hit hard, I was getting all three kids dressed and ready for the day, transporting them all to school and back with me, teaching, coming back home, cleaning, cooking, organizing and providing for their needs all day, taking them to the store and to the park, giving baths and putting them to bed. No sweat.

Fast forward through two years of severe postpartum depression and anxiety, three hospital visits, multiple psychiatrists, antidepressants, and mood stabilizers. Now I'm living with my parents, dependent upon my husband and mom and dad to help with most of those chores. I am not working, and not meeting the needs of my kids on a consistent basis.

When I lay it out like that, it is deflating. It is demoralizing and embarrassing. But, guess what? It's life.

I'm not always going to be in this place. I am getting better.

Just as I would have had to endure months of physical therapy and retraining my body if I was in a horrible accident, I am enduring months of psychological therapy and retraining my brain that I am actually capable. I am a good mom. And I can do this.

So, if it takes putting stickers on a chart, I am going to put stickers on a chart. I will eventually get to a point where I don't have to put a sticker up when I take a shower, or when I cook a meal for my family, but for now, it is what I need. I need accountability. I need proof that I accomplished something, and that I accomplished more than I thought I did.

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