February 16, 2022

On the positive side: G is better! After a rough night, she was completely fine alllllll day yesterday. Thus far, there does not seem to be spread beyond the two of us. So that is good.

On the negative side: OMG, I am feeling so blah. I woke up this morning to my alarm and just . . . did not want to start the day. I eventually forced myself up with the promise of wordle (yes really).

Things I am stressed about

C’s video game truck party; it’s THIS SUNDAY all the sudden I realized I need to figure out tables/some kind of outdoor seating AND I need to clean a bathroom in our new house (we decided to have the truck park there b/c we could have neighbor kids over that way AND there is more space on that street). I am determined to host A’s party at a location where I don’t have to do anything.

Moving and various (#$%(#&$ that goes with that, including finances.

Work. Yesterday had some bright spots, but I found myself getting frustrated quite often. A lot of unease and annoyance mixed with interactions that felt good. I really love part of my clinical job, and I have another lovely resident that was truly fun to work with. I think truly it’s largely a volume/overwhelm issue. Every time I answered an email or patient message about 10 more seemed to appear in its place.

Fitness. I recognize this is dumb, but I have barely worked out in 2.5 weeks and I am dreading restarting and feeling out of shape and sore (#thisis41). I also know that not working out is probably part of why I am in such a mood.

Travel. Part of me wants to table our April spring break trip (maybe we could take that week to move + set up the new house instead . . . ). We had planned on DC but everything just seems complicated.

I am working on finding a therapist. I know the above has elements that sound like depression, and honestly I do feel that way today. I have had similar issues in the past (previously around fertility/TTC and also PMDD, which is much much better now thanks to OCPs).

I really want to enjoy this part of my life. It’s very full and objectively very good, and honestly I am normally a fairly happy person at baseline. So hopefully I can start feeling that way again.


  • Reply Gwinne February 16, 2022 at 7:40 am

    Sounds like a rough patch indeed. Glad to see you’re looking for a therapist but I know that that can be an uphill battle.

    This is me giving you permission to scrap the trip. Not that you asked for Permission! I know there are theories about memory making which could make this trip memorable for your future self. It is equally possible that your future self remembers a horrible experience and you’d be better off staying home, resting, recuperating. There are plenty of other trips in your future. I took one of those questionable trips when tiny boy was a baby. He remembers nothing obviously. LG barely remembers anything. And I remember it as an absolutely horrible experience I would not want to relive. I should have bowed out when I could have gracefully. It was just not the right time for my family to do that kind of trip

  • Reply Amanda February 16, 2022 at 8:14 am

    Just hoping things start to feel better again (they will)! Maybe you could delegate bday party stuff to nanny? I also wonder whether lowering standards at work might serve you? I know it’s not your personality and that the work that you do is important but in my experience there are patient messages that need to be answered right away and then some that can wait until later (maybe with a nurse telling the parent that I’m busy that day but will call them as soon as I can). I was also wondering how much your chief residents do? At my peds residency the PD (a male) did not do much, lol, and the 3 chief residents pretty much ran the program. This was probably not the right balance either but maybe somewhere in the middle? In terms of the trip maybe a family meeting to see how the other members are feeling about things, show them that if you’re going to make fun stuff happen you need some help and cooperation with the non-fun stuff too.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger February 16, 2022 at 8:26 am

      Thankfully I have a fantastic chief who does a ton, extremely grateful to her. I think because our program is still so new that it requires a lot of active management. It’s not any one thing – I think it’s just death by 1000 cuts …

      Yes to family meeting re: trip idea. Maybe we could still travel but find something more relaxing …

      • Reply Alyce February 16, 2022 at 11:08 am

        Have you considered switching up the balance and having fewer clinical days per week and having more administrative days? Maybe that’s warranted, if the program requires a lot of active management. And wouldn’t that also mean you could do less call? It could be a win in more than one way. If your team is hiring, maybe that’s also a possibility as new people come on board.

  • Reply Hanna February 16, 2022 at 8:52 am

    Definitely push back the DC trip if it’s stressing you out. Some seasons of life you just have to cut everything down to just what *needs* to be done.
    There was a time I was really burnt out on workouts and tired a lot, and I eased back into it by basically tricking myself into doing things that were not traditional fitness to me. No watch, wear my normal clothes (I was WFH so on the soft side but could do most of these in my work clothes), etc. Mostly that was walking outside, yoga, and a song or 2 of “dance cardio” from youtube. Gave myself permission to “step-tap” to these songs I liked if that’s all I was up for. Finding a point of entry that is not straight to 45 minute high intensity strength training may help. I’ve even been skipping full strength recently in favor of just picking 3 exercises (push ups, row, and overhead press for example) to do a set or 2 of throughout the day. Sounds like you’re in the office every day, but maybe you could do a few during a TV show? But this is certainly another thing to push off the table if it’s super stressful, or find the minimum required to accomplish what you want (whatever that is: strength to carry groceries, less sore or winded, existing clothes fit better, etc).

  • Reply Sue February 16, 2022 at 8:59 am

    I love aiming for memory making with trips, but honestly my kids love to just do something special at home with too.. it sounds like you could definitely use some time to just settle in the new house. You could have “ice cream sundae night” or “mom and dad play Minecraft with the older two” night or something like that.

  • Reply Elisabeth February 16, 2022 at 9:04 am

    Sorry this is all so hard right now, Sarah.

    There are always going to be ups and downs, but it’s been a lot of downs for you lately, and I really hope that some relief from various sources (a therapist, maybe some changes at work, more PTO) really help you feel like you’re moving in the right – upward – direction again!!

    You’ve got a lot of readers here pulling for you and I know that the honesty of these posts is very affirming to all the rest of us struggling in these very busy, stressful middle years of career, kids, and general life (exercise, reading, hobbies, friends).

    The last year has been one of the hardest mentally of my life and I’ve done a lot of soul-searching and we’re currently in the middle of some huge/scary life changes that should help improve work/life balance for the better. But it’s all just a lot to juggle mentally while being a spouse and parent and home manager (we’re renovating; you’re buying and both things are just SO STRESSFUL!) I know you’re in the same place.

    Wishing you all the best my internet friend!

  • Reply anon February 16, 2022 at 9:31 am

    I have been reading for a while and I recognize so much of what you are saying in how I felt a few months ago. I felt so irritated and ragey all the time. I had no confidence in myself and was constantly second guessing every decision I made. Everything just felt so overwhelming and exhausting. I love running and exercising and I never felt like skipping that, but if I’m totally honest with myself there were times i would be running on the road and would contemplate what it would be like to get hit by a car, etc. It sounds scary to say that now but at the time those were my passing thoughts. I kept focusing on my career and how I could change that to make me happier so I started working with a career counsel who is also a therapist. One day she asked me to describe my ideal job set up and I basically described what I had. We talked about that and she said it sounded like I was depressed and referred me to a psychiatrist. I started taking Welbutrin a few months ago and have felt SO much better. I still get frustrated etc but my outlook is so much more positive and I’m not completely flying off the handle multiple times a week. I’m more confident in myself and am not second guessing everything I do. I was honestly a bit surprised with the depression diagnosis because I just didn’t see myself that way. I do all the things, including running marathons! But apparently depression can also manifest itself in rage and indecision. I just thought that this was a hard stage of life (which it is) and it was supposed to be difficult, but I didn’t realize that I didn’t HAVE to feel that way I’m so happy i found my way to a psychiatrist and started the meds.

    • Reply Jessica February 16, 2022 at 11:24 am

      So much this!
      Last year I was also hitting a wall, so frustrated with my kids and life, plus a baby who was very LOUD. Even though I was doing all the things: daily workouts, meditation, yoga, journaling, gratitude practice… My GP asked how I was doing and I said, “I feel like a prisoner of war”. She started me on Zoloft and it was like night and day. The description was that my bucket was just constantly overflowing, so I didn’t have any patience. This just brings things down a bit, so when a new item pops up, it doesn’t overflow.

    • Reply Chelsea February 16, 2022 at 11:57 am

      YES! I had nearly the same conversation with a therapist years ago before I started taking an antidepressant. I said, “I’m already doing all the things I’m supposed to do not to be depressed… I volunteer and am engaged with my community, I run marathons, I’m close with my family and friends, etc. etc…. so… why am I still so depressed?” And she said, “I think you should talk to your GP…”

      I like to say that it helps to drown out the Greek Chorus that was playing through my mind all the time. I don’t wake up in the middle of the night unable to sleep and paranoid that my parents (who have never been anything but loving and supportive) hate me. I don’t think, “I could just smash my car into that pylon, and yeah, it would cause a lot of trouble for other people, but hey, I wouldn’t be around to have to deal with it for once.” anymore. At least not like I used to.

  • Reply Kathryn K. February 16, 2022 at 9:33 am

    This is coming from someone who is not nearly as high energy and on the go as a lot of folks on here seem to be, but I would 100% ditch the D.C. trip and focus on getting moved and settled in. Schedule a few fun local things to do break up the week.

    And is going back down to 90% an option? From the outside, that seemed to work well for you. You’re in a stage now where your kids are getting busier with activities but are still small enough that they need you quite a bit.

    • Reply Beth @ Parent Lightly February 16, 2022 at 12:09 pm

      I am also not as high energy as many people! When I start feeling the way SHU describes I back off hard. Cancel as much as I can, make sure I’m only doing the literal minimum. Like…make sure there’s TP and no poop in the toilet for the party….delay trips that haven’t yet been booked….Especially when you are moving, that is all consuming. When we moved across the country in July-Aug 2020 that was literally my only focus for the entire quarter (along with not losing my job). I tried to run ~10 min a day and eat relatively healthy but that was a nice to have. It is really easy to underestimate the drain of a move when it is local but that is honestly almost as hard as a long distance move.

      Hugs and hope you start feeling more how you want to feel soon.

  • Reply KDR February 16, 2022 at 9:50 am

    1) Fully support your postponing the DC trip. My first thought was to turn spring break into an extended weekend/summer type thing where the kids are required to help with chores/setting up the house in the morning and then get extended screen time in the afternoon. Honestly I would’ve love that as a kid and I bet they’ll remember it as a special week when they got to have a lot of screen time.

    2) Proud of you for deciding to seek out a therapist.

    3) would it be any easier to outsource the bathroom/house cleaning? I ask bc sometimes it IS just easier to do it yourself.

    4) I realize that I have a more cavalier attitude toward money than most people because of extreme privilege but I’ve noticed a theme lately of your stress around money. Obviously with the current economic uncertainty and three young kids, it’s totally reasonable. But maybe it might also help to think about what money means for you? For example, lately I’ve had the mindset that things cost what they cost. I can decide whether to do those things or not but it’s not worth the energy to stress out about the costs once I’ve decided I’m doing something. I wonder if it would help if you thought about this move as just costing what it cost and using money to alleviate the stress, not add to it. I think discipline and frugality are important but they have to be deployed for a purpose. You’ve spent years being diligent about saving (it may be time to forgive yourself for not doing so earlier in your career as you’ve alluded to) and maybe it so that you don’t have to stress about big life changes like this during stressful times like now (esp given possible depression). You know that you’ll get back to saving soon (relative to your money earning span). The pandemic has made me realize that working and saving all for a mythical retirement is silly if we’re actively suffering now.

    Anyways, thank you for continuing to share. I check in almost every day and am rooting for you.

    • Reply KDR February 16, 2022 at 1:45 pm

      Ok I just reread that and feel like an asshole about #4. Please disregard. I think what I was trying to say is that perspective helps and sometimes money becomes a focus of our stress/anxiety when it doesn’t have to be. But I sounded like a jerk and all I want to do is support you because I think you’re great and going through a hard time.

      • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger February 16, 2022 at 1:49 pm

        I did not think any of it came off badly!! I totally got what you were saying.

      • Reply Amy February 16, 2022 at 4:02 pm

        Lol, I totally got what you were saying too. Not an asshole!

  • Reply Tierney February 16, 2022 at 10:42 am

    Hi Sarah, I really admire your insight and introspection. You are a wonderful, capable person and I wish you the best through these tough times.

    • Reply Elisabeth February 16, 2022 at 1:27 pm

      I’m so glad that you’re looking for a therapist, because your recent writing definitely reads depression/anxiety-ish. I’m 39 and have struggled with dysthymia/PDD and anxiety since I was probably about 10 (childhood trauma), but never really realized it until I started seeing a psychologist 3+ years ago when I was clearly in a period of MDD and the suicidal thoughts finally scared me into doing it. Eventually he referred me to a psychiatrist to add medication to our treatment plan. While we haven’t found quite the right drug(s) yet (unfortunately the long time PDD also has manifested as TRD), I’m glad that I’m trying instead of continuing to try to live feeling so poorly. And I’m so grateful to have people helping me, reminding me that life doesn’t have to feel that way. All of this is really just to say to not be too hard on yourself; life is hard for all of us in certain periods. Sometimes we just need help and I hope that you’re able to find some relief from a therapist or medication (if it’s warranted) or maybe some job adjustments or whatever you might need to ease the distress. Hugs!

  • Reply Ashley February 16, 2022 at 11:07 am

    I resonate with so much of what you’ve talked about lately. I’m also 41. This age/stage of life is hard. Lots of responsibility is on our plates, and it’s no wonder that sometimes we run out of coping mechanisms. I’m glad you’re pursuing therapy and looking at ways to make your life easier. I’m talking to myself as much as you, but try not to be too hard on yourself for not feeling amazing right now. The only way out is through.

  • Reply lawandcreative February 16, 2022 at 11:28 am

    Glad you’re reaching out for some help, Sarah.

    And I also totally understand the temptation to postpone your holiday plans. Some time off work , with a mix of some days with childcare and some without (if possible) could be such a lovely low key plan.

    You’ll figure it out! 🙂

  • Reply Nan February 16, 2022 at 1:13 pm

    Hi Sarah, just chiming in to say you deserve so much compassion and patience with yourself and your needs right now. A full-time job, call week, Disney world (that in and of itself would take me out of a commission for a good while!), norovirus, A MOVE (!!!)… so much that its no wonder you are feeling so overwhelmed and basically blah. Try to scale back what you can for the time being and also make time for what you need that makes you feel like your best self (which I am guessing exercise). I also exercise and jog frequently because as much as it feels good physically, it is essential for my emotional well-being. This is a good time to up your self-care needs and scale back on everything else that is not essential. This too shall pass. Oh, and a therapist is fantastic when you find someone that you connect with! I am a therapist who has been in therapy on and off for years and I find it so helpful for my well-being. Everyone can benefit from a sacred, set aside space to unload whatever is on their minds.

  • Reply Rose February 16, 2022 at 1:15 pm

    Sarah, I’ve been following you for 10 years! I think this is my first comment though. I am in the midst of an IOP program for depression and anxiety, and the way you have been writing lately reminds me so much of myself and the other ladies in my group. For whatever reason, my group is comprised of type A women who have been pretty successful at one point or another. We all wish we had practiced more self care when we had the ability to, and taken on less, so we did not get to the point of needing IOP.

    I also just went through a local move and it was far more time consuming and stressful than I anticipated, and really impacted my mental health. I’m not sure if you are looking for support or suggestions – but i do encourage you to ask yourself what’s the worst thing that could happen if you take some time away from work to focus on yourself and get back on track?

    I also urge you to become incompetent at the parts of your PD job that really grate you or you have the most struggle holding boundaries with. I am not in healthcare and understand this may be impossible, but I bet there are at least some emails/messages that you could give yourself 24 hours to respond to – especially things concerning management/admin around your residents. Many many things will solve themselves in that time period and it shifts the expectation from others that you are available to solve problems that perhaps should be solved by someone else. Wishing you health and happiness as you work through this, and thank you for sharing with us over the years! I am sure everyone is rooting for you.

  • Reply Marina February 16, 2022 at 2:35 pm

    Hi Sarah, just echoing what everyone said about postponing the DC trip. Seeing new places with your family is fun but it’s also a lot of work to plan and to figure out new routines, especially when you are dealing with so much at home! I think what you need most right now is time off work, kids out of the house or with a sitter and just some time to yourself. You can also do some of the house stuff, but also just lounge. That will be more restorative than a trip somewhere else now! And best of luck finding a therapist. It’s hard to find one that you click with, but once you do, it’s so worth it.

  • Reply sbc February 16, 2022 at 4:46 pm

    If you can outsource finding a therapist who takes your insurance, is accepting new patients, and is convenient to you (hours, telemed v. in-person, etc.) to an Employee Assistance Program, I highly recommend that!

  • Reply coco February 16, 2022 at 4:51 pm

    sorry to hear you’ve been in a rat of “not feeling good”. I think prioritizing selfcare like exercising could really helps, even if it means you have to drop some “duties”. whenever I’m stressed, exercising daily is a non negotiable just as a good night sleep. when you feel better everybody arounds you will feel better too.

  • Reply Molly February 16, 2022 at 6:24 pm

    If we were friends, I would tell you to cancel the trip, put the kids in camp, and give that time back to yourself to relax, unpack, etc. The kids will have fun, and you won’t feel so drained.

  • Reply Rebecca February 16, 2022 at 8:35 pm

    We have a trauma counselor at work right now (hospital) and she came to a leadership meeting and essentially said after the adrenaline of the last 2 years have worn off, it’s hard to be successful at work and come home and fail at getting your 3 year old to wear pants. And literally this entire room of nursing leadership women all had tears rolling down their face. We are ALL struggling. As working mothers who have lost so many coping mechanisms and resources it is hard to keep focusing and planning at work and keeping our patience at home. I went and made an appointment with the counselor and said all the Covid icu patients ive taken care of over the last 2 years didn’t break me. These kids quarantines and social breakdowns and lack of help broke me. And she said that is a common theme right now and gave me some small coping mechanism tricks and it’s really helped. I saw her weekly for a while at work, which was great, because it wasn’t something else I had to plan, she was on campus. All this to say you’re not alone. Most women, especially in healthcare, I think feel like this. Secondly, if you can find a counselor through EAP or work or something convenient you can do virtually, it doesn’t have to be perfect, just find someone and talk and they can help you find coping mechanisms. Ours at work isn’t my forever therapist but she got me through a really rough patch.

  • Reply Amanda February 17, 2022 at 8:46 am


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