Tag Archives: PPD

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.