Tag Archives: mothering

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 4: Acceptance is the first step

28 Aug

Today’s guest post is from Leanne. I remember first meeting Leanne on Blogging Baby, a place I began to affectionately refer to as “Troll Heaven”. She stood out for her passionate defense of mothers and natural childbirth, as well as good ole common sense. I also met Karrie, and Eden and Jen and others there, so I guess it wasn’t that bad.



It sounds weird to say “I have depression.” It’s like saying I have a hangnail; it’s just an annoyance, a fact of existence. I also have flat hair and stretch marks, pelvic floor damage and fallen arches.

I’m not depressed. Well, not today. Much of the time I feel what I think is normal: content, interested in the world, grateful for my family, satisfied with this or that accomplishment.

The other times, I feel an over-arching sense of foreboding, like I’ve done something very wrong. I feel pissed off at my children for not being more compliant, at my husband for not being more in tune with the needs of our home life, at myself for being a failure. I’m impatient and unkind.

In these moments I rage, I yell, I say nasty things and swear a lot. I hold grudges and pull away from the world, hoping that all my problems and stresses will go away if only I hide well enough.

My poor kids. My poor husband.

I should go see someone, shouldn’t I? It’s not really normal to feel like that, is it? I feel like my barometer for judging whether or not I’m *really* depressed is damaged. Between my emotionally abusive parents (my father helpfully pointed out he reason why my first love broke up with me, when I was 16, was because I was a bitch. Thanks Dad! Love you, asshole!) and 8 years of mental abuse by the Catholic church (those feelings you are having are wrong and if you don’t repent you will go to Hell!), I feel like I’m just a burden, that I should just get over myself and stop navel gazing. My needs are no priority of anyone’s. My emotional reality merely a nuisance to everyone, including myself.

So, I should see someone, right? But, I have these two children to look after. I don’t have time to go to the doctor and then have her recommend me to a specialist and then wait for a specialist appointment and then go to the specialist and tell my story *again*. What a hassle!

There is a women’s mental health clinic I could self refer to, but that’s for women with *real* problems. I don’t want to kill myself. OK, I don’t *really* want to kill myself. Sure, sometimes I fantasize about not existing, but that doesn’t make me suicidal, right? I mean, I’d never leave my children. I’d never leave my husband. I’d never actually cause myself any kind of actual pain or harm. I’m too much of a wimp to do that (which, as an aside, is kinda funny, because I can totally have multiple non-medicated births which is torture level pain that goes on for half a day, but the idea of taking a knife to my wrists or taking pills that would make me cramp fills me with horror!).

I don’t have the kind of problems that require intervention and therapy. But, then there are those days when I am sobbing to my husband that I can no longer cope. There are those days when I am so shrill with my children I can see how my behaviour has shaped theirs. There is that shame I walk around with that I have become my mother.

Oh sure, I don’t hide in bed all day like she did, unable to face her responsibilities, her life. But I yell like her. I’m fat like her. I’m in my pyjamas most of the day, like her. And, if I don’t stop this bullshit now and heal myself, heal my family, my son will grow up to be just like me. My husband will stop caring just like my dad. I will feel miserable for most of my life.

And yet, I just keep trudging along, never really moving forward. Able to understand the entire situation in an intellectual way, but shackled emotionally so that I never improve, never get help.

I shouldn’t be living like this, should I?

Leanne is the mother of two, husband of one, doula to many and writes on The Clever Mom (www.theclevermom.com), Momcast (momcast.blogspot.com) and Vegetarian Moms (vegetarianmoms.wordpress.com).

She is almost ready to treat her depression.