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I’m sorry, is The Mother’s Act trying to help women? My bad…

22 May

Once upon a time, everything was wrong. I knew it. I couldn’t bring myself to where I needed to be. So I lived with it, we worked around it, we did what we could, the people in my life, me. But when there’s a fuzz in your brain you can never quite shake, you can’t see through it. You can feel the wrong vibrating through your life, but you can’t quite settle it.

Even if you talk to a doctor, even when I sat down and said, please, I want to die, I can’t hold it in, they saw nothing. The next time I’d be fine, and bouncy and wonderful and life was grand and they saw nothing. So I carried on, with the wrong still buzzing, believing I was doing what I could do.

But then pregnancy, and pregnancy again, and there was a slight snap that let loose the dogs of crazy, and I slipped slowly into the vibration, becoming consumed, becoming someone I wasn’t, someone who I can’t recognize today.

They didn’t see it. They didn’t watch for it, they didn’t ask. My urine was more compelling than my mental state, even after the first time, even after being through it, after asking for help. Nothing. No one. They watched me crying, sobbing in a fetal position 3 hours after birth and did nothing. I should have been happy, shouldn’t I?

More and more foolishness comes out on the Mother’s Act. More lies, more blatant bullshit (prozac in a baby’s eyes? Really? People BELIEVE this crap!?!?) more obstacles to providing women with nurses and doctors who pay attention to their emotional state, who stop and ask them if they’re ok, who take a moment to look them in the eyes and tell them it’s ok to admit if maybe it’s not all puppies and rainbows.

Honesty. Caring. Compassion. Research to prevent post partum mood disorders.

I read a story like this one, where a mother kills her son. And I read how the family felt “she did not express the typical love of a mother for her child.” And how nothing had been done before that. How the mother said she killed him because “she did not want him to grow up with no one caring about him, the same way that she had grown up where nobody had cared about her.” She then walked the streets of her city.

If she never reacted properly to her son, why would no one ever see, or be told, or help? How long? From birth? Could this have been stopped, years before? This mother, who now waits to be tried, who wants now to die, who felt this was the only way, could she have been helped by something as simple as a doctor noticing, at some time, what was going on?

As a Canadian who has suffered a bad case of PPD, I’ve been watching the Mother’s Act hopefully, and wondering if we can implement something similar in Canada. Something that would extend a hand when it’s needed, not forcing or demanding, but merely being a support when it’s so desperately needed. Education for doctors and nurses to recognize the signs.

I’ve also been watching the backlash, the ridiculous claim from out of nowhere that this is basically an excuse for “big pharma” (I’m so tired of that term) to drug everyone into insensibility, make oodles of money, and giggle maniacally in their lairs. Because it’s hard to believe that anyone, even a senator who is paid to represent the constituents, or a mother who lost her daughter, might only want things to change for mothers. Because nothing can ever happen on a broad scale without some sort of conspiracy attached.

It’s disgusting, and infuriating, especially when coming from other mothers. I didn’t take anything when I was suffering-I went through therapy, and was eventually diagnosed, nearly 2 years later, as bipolar. Which I should have been diagnosed as years before. I elected to start treatment with medication, and did my research on each until we found one that corrected the imbalance in my brain, and allowed me to function, NOT exceed, but merely FUNCTION at the same level as everyone else.

I CHOSE my path. I still see a doctor, sometimes more, sometimes less. I take my medication because for me, talk therapy isn’t the only answer. But I refused anti-depressants twice, and was merely told that they were available, if I needed or wanted them. As with many women I know, I didn’t want them.

But some women might. And women should have the choice, since free will, after all, is a bitch.

There are lives to be saved here, women’s lives, children. By simple screening, questions, a kind word, someone paying attention. And yet we constantly see blowhards screaming their agenda, which is not so much about women but about their misguided attempts to protect. We see people who have never ever even given BIRTH, who decide, based on their vast experience, that this bill must be evil evil evil.

We have hundreds, maybe thousands of women, every day, suffering in silence, suffering in from of medical staff as I did, who get no help at all.

We are a compassionate people, aren’t we?

****

So I went to read the bill again. Looking for the “feed me Risperdal” clause.

Yeah…no….

(1) Basic research concerning the etiology and causes of the conditions.

  

(2) Epidemiological studies to address the frequency and natural history of the conditions and the differences among racial and ethnic groups with respect to the conditions.

 Again, research, especially about incidence, good. 

(3) The development of improved screening and diagnostic techniques.

  

(4) Clinical research for the development and evaluation of new treatments.

  

(5) Information and education programs for health care professionals and the public, which may include a coordinated national campaign to increase the awareness and knowledge of postpartum conditions. Activities under such a national campaign may– 

Gee, educating the public? Kirstie, are you listening?

 (B) focus on–

(i) raising awareness about screening;

     (ii) educating new mothers and their families about postpartum conditions to promote earlier diagnosis and treatment; and

    You mean, let people know what it might feel like so they can educate themselves? NO!

     

    (iii) ensuring that such education includes complete information concerning postpartum conditions, including its symptoms, methods of coping with the illness, and treatment resources.

    And education means providing ALL options and alternatives to the woman, so SHE can make a decision like a big girl wearing big girl pants? How progressive!

      

     

Frankly, I don’t see it. While I take medication, and it has literally saved my life, I don’t like pills either. I hate taking them. I’ve declined many medications because I don’t want it in my body. I would never support something that mandated medication. And this doesn’t. Unless there’s some super special secret page that only Amy whatshedrinking can see with all her friends. This is about education, and providing women with the tools they MIGHT need to help them get a handle on things.

Maybe I am insane, but I fail to see how this infringes on freedom, goes against the constitution, or any of the many things it’s been accused of doing.

It’s trying to help. People who have been there are trying to help. What’s really in it for those trying to prevent that help? Dollars for Scientology perhaps, more money for “natural” remedies that might also poison you? Is this just another way for some women to convince you that you aren’t a real woman if you haven’t “toughed it out” if you suffered true post partum, and not just baby blues?

I’m not proud. I deeply desired to give away my daughter at birth. To harm her and end my life. Many things too painful to write down. I recovered with therapy, with the help of a very aware lactation consultant who called at the right time. What I felt wasn’t natural or normal, and it took me a year to connect to her, despite fighting for therapy and assistance.

Now imagine the woman without an advocate.

That’s who you’re destroying here.

Fire in the Belly, at 4

9 Mar


Originally uploaded by thordora

Lately I find myself reaching for babies a lot, my fingers twitching greedily for the soft, chubby legs, the tiny buttons on the tiny sweaters, the wispy hair (OH! the wisps) I don’t really want one-hell, I didn’t want mine when I had them, and hurried their babyhood’s alone with a wink, and nudge and the hope that lack of sleep would cause amnesia.

It must have worked since I can’t remember Rosalyn’s first word. I do recall that she walked for the very first time on her first birthday however. I don’t remember much else though, and thinking on it is like wading through mist. Ok, actually, I remember her exersaucer and how she took it as a personal challenge to get it across a room. She was always so determined to get moving.

In flipping through pictures of her, I noticed that her face, particularly her mouth, is dirty with something in nearly all. Cheese, crackers, peanut butter-always a greasy smear and crumbs down the front, too busy, much much too busy, white rabbit watch checking and running busy.

Then lately, now, I think of her, and the constant strains of “my haaands are durty!!!” and the running for the bathroom, the recent fastidiousness that has risen within her-the clean face I hadn’t seen since birth. I stopped and thought about that snack filled face, and nearly dropped what I held.

She’s a little girl now. My baby, my second born, my brave wonder woman birth, my angry little baby, so serious and sad for months in photos, still with the lost in thought head. She is not a baby. I can carry her down the stairs to her bed, her tiny arms twisted around my neck, her breathing warm in my ear, and I realize she never liked this as a baby, was never comfortable. She wants to do things, communicates her thoughts, tells me she misses her sister when she’s gone. (Yeah, I usually have to pick my jaw up at that one)

Man, where did she go? My baby, will she always be my baby? I know I treat the two of the differently, but how can’t I? They ARE so different! Where Vivian seems to run the rails on the straight and narrow, Rosalyn just…floats by, like she’s on water, plucking lilies from the shore. She’s got that purple crayon, and she’s drawing the road herself.

She really is a fabulous little creature. Not my baby, the baby is gone, and yeah, good riddance and all that jazz.

Four years ago, I was such a mess, and I was angry and depressed and scared, and almost unwilling and unable to love my baby, my daughter.

Four years later, I can’t imagine my heart not full with the sight of her.

Happy Birthday Ros. Sing me a song.

A Thank You Letter for Broken Mirrors

28 Aug

For today, Friday, I bring you Heidi’s guest post. Yet again I cannot remember how I stumbled on to her-but now I’m drawn to her-her simple light, glowing in the wilds of the interwebs, full of Buffy and Molly and passion. It’s invigorating and inspiring.

Heidi blogs, mostly, at Daisybones, but around other places as well.

I started drafting a post a month or two ago, and called it My Brand of Crazy. I was seeing a lot of mental distress happening in my blogiverse haunts, and as if in tiny shards of mirror I saw familiar glimpses everywhere. Perhaps the collective consciousness of women writers is brewing something. (If that’s the case I hope it’s a steaming cauldron brimming with radical change for those of us stuck in oppressively repeating patterns.) 

We are all living depressions or anxieties that are all distinctly our own but tie us to one another. My first draft still waits unfinished, most likely because writing from down in that darkness is rarely successful for me. My shattered sleep was killing my focus and perspective, and now that the night rhythms in my family are gentler, I’m able to write from a coherent place. I’ve been meaning to piece those mirror moments together, to compose a fragmented Thank You to the writers whose candid work inspires me and shows me a little many-forked path out of isolation.  

Thordora, wisely taking some meditative steps away while inviting others to share here, presents me with a perfect reason to finish the writing. Her crisis is wrenching me, but for the first time I feel like I’m seeing huge changes that will be healing for her. I see it as Shiva energy- she walks inward toward death and finds a frighteningly intense life instead. Pain but change. Reading her world through my experience, I have to imagine my moods cycling steeper and harder and darker and that vision brings me awe. You are still here, we still have you: Awe. 

I don’t mean in my mirror metaphors to compare the whole of my mind with the whole of another. It isn’t helpful to create a hierarchy of illness. But I’m aware, acutely so, that I’m lucky among my writer-heroines- what I would give to be lay sleep on them like a restorative veil and to find that it’s enough to lift them out. I’ve teetered on the edge of needing medication again, and it’s a good feeling to be able to see a choice there. Many of us- a younger me- had no luxury to wonder if they needed the pills.   

When Teresa bravely wrote at Soul Gardening about her diagnosis and symptoms, I cried hard for her because I knew, deeply. Hers is the first description that matched my anxious “flashes” exactly. Her visions weren’t quite the same as some mothers with PPD who feel urges or imagine hurting their children, but they are so close and are also terrifying. Like me, she would imagine strange, violent accidents. I remember holding my daughter, stroking her hair. I’d envision her older, with longer hair, and I’d be getting her haircut- then a flash like a horror film still with scissors in her soft spot and I’d clench all over to force the image out. I’ve had these flashes since I was a child. Compulsive, fast, little movies. They came more often post-partum but I had seen them before and could manage them. When I think of Teresa having these scary flashes out of nowhere, baby in arms, I want to hold them both tight and promise them it’s OK. I think things are improving for her now, and I send her loving thoughts. 

I’m crawling out of my recent moderate-crazy, finding the ups more gentle and frequent and the downs less steep. I’m crediting the mirror people with a lot of that. It’s more than a reflection metaphor. It’s light, bouncing invisible. Little wavelengths binding us in a web we keep making. It strengthens and build me and lifts me out and up to read words so like those I was afraid to write at Schmutzie’s Milkmoney or Not Here I Come or Sweetney. This tears down barriers that keep us from seeing ourselves as part of a collective. The nature of depression/anxiety is isolating and somehow we are defying that by writing through it.

Guest Post 2: Star Gazing

25 Aug

Summer brings us today’s post, an in the moment glimpse of what so many of us can relate to in those first months after a new baby.

Summer blogs at A Shot in the Dark. She’s private but talk nice and she’ll open the door for you.

 

The flower is called a “star gazer”.  This is what he told me, my husband that is, as he brought it in from the farmers market and presented it to me.  This is where my over analytical PPD brain jumps in and starts its ride on the merry-go-round of lies. 
That is a pointed comment meant to explain to me how lost to him I am, gazing at the stars instead of talking to him.  Gazing at the stars instead of listening to our two year old sing twinkle twinkle or remembering to give her a bath more than once a week or brush her teeth ever.  Gazing away while our 4 month old lies screaming in her bed because I thought she was tired when she was hungry. 

Gazing when I should be showering, dressing, cleaning, cooking, creating, really doing anything except this God awful gazing that is all I can seem to do.  Still just gazing when I promised to pay that credit card bill that somehow I forgot about and am now paying a late fee and a higher interest rate.  Gazing myself into a being a failure of a parent, spouse, friend, human being of any merit.  I should simply not be allowed to fuck this family up to this point all because I’m a useless star gazer.  I should not exist.  I should end this now. 

  
This is the point at which I either win the fight or I lose.  Today it was a draw.  I was able to acknowledge that I am not in this alone as much as my head tells me I should be.  I made hot chocolate for my 2 year old and poured all the love I have into it.  I started over with my 4 month old and let my tears flow with hers instead of wallowing in it alone.  Baby steps. 

So though I did not get out of pajamas today, still haven’t bathed my kids or myself but I can at least walk out of the lies long enough to admit this simple truth: My husband brought me flowers today because he loves me, star gazers, aren’t they beautiful?

Guest Post One: To Be a Self

24 Aug

I originally found Marcy via the Tag Surfer if I’m not mistaken-finally finding someone else tagging their posts PPD. While on the outside we don’t have much in common-(she’s a talented musician, seamstress, worshipper, wife and mother, I barely fitting any of those categories :) ) we share one thing-a quest, a thirst to be as we were, to be people who can just act and react as the majority of the world does.

Marcy has gifted us the following entry.

 

 

I dreamed once, many years ago, that I was a mental patient. At the time I’d never had that experience.

I was trying to escape the ward — I wanted to go “back to Africa,” which I think represented a quest, some kind of self-searching thing, freedom of development and discovery or something like that. (I’d been in Africa one summer, and it was an important experience in my life.) I was running but it was like running in a pool — too slow, not enough momentum, even kicking off from walls didn’t help. The doors slid shut just before I reached them, and the chasing orderlies got me.

I went limp, sobbing but quietly, I think. They dragged / carried me back to the tv room where other patients were limply munching popcorn and watching some program. The orderlies explained to the other patients that I was upset about the color of the Jell-O. In other words, explained my upset as trivial, meaningless, over-dramatic, ridiculous, hyper-sensitive.

A year and a half ago I became a mental patient. They only let me stay for two days, and the intake interviewer was hostile, but otherwise my experience in the hospital was good. I was one of two patients there for postpartum depression and anxiety. My baby had been born just a week and a half before, home just a week.

I have had forms of depression and anxiety as far back as maybe third grade or further. I still functioned fairly well in a lot of ways. At some of the worst times I’ve sought help, from pastors (pretty ineffective in my case) and finally a professional therapist (probably would never have gone if the referral hadn’t come from a pastor’s assistant I respect and who respects me).

The Africa dream illustrates how I go through these cycles, where there is something I feel is really important to me, but I am hindered in pursuing and reaching it, and at some point I rather suddenly give up, resigned but hopeless. My fear in going into therapy was that I would be (again, still) made to conform to society’s expectations, take care of other people’s needs and not encroach myself on them, and continue to function at a high level. Nothing on the inside of me — nothing important to me — would matter, unless it needed to be changed or destroyed for the sake of better functioning — in other words, for the sake of others.

A few months ago, I was in the garage late at night, yelling at God, feeling just about every basic negative emotion intensely and simultaneously.

I had weaned off the PPD drugs a few months before, and my depressive and anxious symptoms started becoming problematic again — really hindering my functioning, particularly as a mother and wife and friend. I’d tentatively discussed returning to therapy, but it didn’t seem possible financially or absolutely necessary. I tried to manage, but reached low enough that I had to push again to get what I needed.

I couldn’t get a local therapy appointment that day, so I went to my family doctor and at least got back on Zoloft, half the dose I’d been on, and got some Ativan to deal with the long waiting for the Zoloft to start working. I was excited. I had a therapy interview lined up for the following week, I had drugs to take, it would all be fine again.

But after I took the first Ativan that evening, I didn’t feel any positive effect. My reaction escalated until the garage incident, which led to a nurse line call (could it be a reaction against the Ativan? Maybe, but call your doctor), then to the doctor call (No, it can’t be that. If it continues this bad, go to the ER), then to the ER, and finally to sleep at 3 am.

I think the next day I wondered what that was all about.

Another cycle — another tentative push growing more and more intense and desperate but also more fearful of what I might destroy by pushing — and another relapse into apparently normal life.

I was thinking about the garage incident the other night, and about how bewildered I can get trying to separate truth from falsehood, me from my issues, meaningful and important thoughts and ones that can safely be dismissed, and so on. It is terrifying sometimes — to others it doubtless seems so much abstract over thinking, but it doesn’t feel like that to me — to me it feels like figuring all this out is a matter of life or death.

The essence of my mental health struggle is trying to learn what it means to be a self — what I am allowed to be and do, what is healthy, who the essential me is, what I actually want and whether I want it enough to pursue it through opposition, whether anything I think is important really is or if I am really just trivial and ridiculous — how to love me — but without destroying anyone else, or even encroaching too far on anyone else’s needs — and, on the flip side, to learn to love others well without destroying myself.

And in the midst of all that, to stop warring against reality — the reality that I am this hurt despite no one (or very few people) actively trying to harm me, the reality that I can’t completely avoid hurting others or being hurt, the reality that I have all these thoughts and feelings and get so confused and scared and angry and depressed, and so on and so on. Learning that radical acceptance doesn’t mean condoning or excusing what has happened, just accepting that it has.

And, above all, to understand what God is really all about, and what he thinks about all this therapy and self-exploration and all that, what he requires of me, what he offers me, what he allows me, and even what he might be saying to me.

Marcy blogs about her adorable daughter and life at Becoming Three.

More than the sum of her womb.

28 Jul

You know what I’m sick of.

I’m sick of this shit.

Bitch, where’s your kids? Here’s Britney Spears hard at work on a plan to get custody of her kids back

. Her plan so far involves some pool lounging and flirting with anonymous dudes.

But we know Britney. We can see the gears sparking and grinding in her head. It smells like beef jerky. That’s how you know Britney’s plotting something.

 

Yes, Britney surrendered custody of her children to their father. Yes, she’s had various problems in the last little while. We know.

What drives me nuts each time I open my feed reader are posts that basically stand back and point a “HOLY SHIT DUDES! HORRIBLE MOTHER AHEAD!!!!!” finger at her, which numerous male stars walk out on their children, likely every day. And it’s everywhere-how dare someone with a working womb and vagina give up her kids, maybe to get better, or maybe because, like men all over the world, she can’t handle having them all the time.

This constant assumption of the sainted perfect mother who can’t be separated from her kids-this drives post partum depression, this drives women who work 60 hour work weeks and yet still make the cookies for playschool. It drives women not being able to make the reasonable decisions regarding their children because only bad monster mommies leave their kids. Only evil mommies dare act like men. How on earth could the womb that bore them walk away so easily?

To which I ask, how on each can the ejaculator who created them walk away so easily?

It’s so pervasive, so easy to think “Geez, what a cooze, leaving her kids and going sunbathing.” It’s so easy to judge, so easy to believe she’s a bad mother for leaving instead of a good mother for removing herself in order to get better for them. I could be wrong. She could be a brainless idiot who created a mental illness to rid herself of two children she didn’t want.

Somehow I doubt it.

It’s easy though isn’t it, to point at a woman in a way that we wouldn’t dream of pointing at a man-how many have children in or out of relationships, and all they’ve done is throw money at them? I’m sure you’re all counting right now.

What I expel from my uterus does not make me sacred, or special, or holier. It makes me a mother, as it makes the father a father. He is not blessed with special properties-hell, if he takes custody, he’s some sort of sacrificial cow, gazed at adoringly as a perfect piece of man. The woman-not so lucky, as she is selfish enough to not want her pwecious bebes. 

I don’t want my daughters to grow up in this world-in a world where every tabloid sings the lusty sins, perceived or real, of 15 year old girls, where your gender casts you out in specific ways, where the “good kid” doesn’t always win. I want a world with real freedom for women, not viral campaigns against something written on shitty underwear at K-Mart or pissing matches on the internet.

I want us ALL to have the freedom to walk away if need be. Just like our men do.

third time the charm?

29 Apr

Kristin left the following comment on my “I cannot handle being a mother anymore” post

Hi Ladies I haven’t been here in a while now, I have been going through some prety hard times lately. In october i found out that i was pregnant with my third baby!!! It was NOT planned and needless to say i was not happy at all!! Abortion was not an option either. I hadve just turned 40 and the thought of starting all over with another baby realy freaks me out actually i hate the thought of it i found myself very angry all the time there were even times where i wished i would just miscarrie then it would be ok but that never happened and now i am almost 8 months and i am soo scared of what is going to happen once the baby is born.

I already have 2 girls 5 and 3 and this one is a boy which i have to admit i was upset about i never wanted to have boys so when i was told that it was a boy i became even more depressed. My husband is ecstatic about having a third but i am just miseable. Has anyone out there had a siimilar experience? If so i would to know how you dealt with it and did your opinion change once you saw your baby? I am so depressed all the time that i feel sick to my stomach and i am not sleeping well at all i really could use some advice. everybody keeps telling me that all this will cahnge once the baby is born that i will just be soo happy and wonder how i could of ever not wanted him.

But im afraid that once hes born i will be even more depressed and that i will just be miserable and hate my life and that it will eventually effect my pretty perfect marriage i just cant feel good about it not to mention thta i am not looking forward to the c section again so please anyone please help with some advice and encouragment i really could use some thanks for listening.

I’m sure she would appreciate any help or advice we could offer.

My two cents Kristin? You need some alone time, and a good therapist to hash this stuff out with. I felt the same way when pregnant with Rosalyn, and spent most of the first year having trouble connecting with her (I hardly remember her as a baby) Some of this is because of my illness, and some because I really didn’t want her, as much as it pains me to say.

You are not the only woman to feel this, so please do not feel ashamed.

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