Look at the night and it don’t seem so lonely

forgive my neil diamond lyrics as the title of this post– i am currently in a messenger debate with a friend over whether or not Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond is a good song.  guess what? it is.  a chorus of the bopbopboppppp makes it 100.  don’t @ me.  (is that what the kids say these days?)

on to more pressing matters– i am on a leave of absence from work.  there– plain and simple… no dancing around it- i’ll just put it out there.  life has been increasingly stressful over the past few months– i’ve made difficult decisions i wholeheartedly felt were the right thing… only to have them blow up in my face.  i’ve listened to the hurtful words from some and believed them.  i internalized them… they took control.

i looked at my social media feeds from the days leading up to my “breakdown,” and i could see it coming.  –tweets about feeling like i was unraveling…  guzzling coffee because i couldn’t feed my kids fast food dinner again… or be late on a work assignment.  the hits at work hit hard and broke me down–  the messy house, the exhaustion, the tantrums from the threenager, the meetings at school for my five year old– those became harder to handle.  i was losing strength.

i think… though i can’t be totally sure…. that i basically stopped my OCD medication without meaning to.  the deeper i got into the madness… the more i kept telling myself… “oh you’ve already taken it– don’t take it again… you’ll OD” …or “you can’t be sure– you don’t want serotonin syndrome– best to just skip it tonight…” — eventually i couldn’t determine the days i’d had it or hadn’t had it… i was lying about taking it regularly… though i kept telling myself that i wasn’t lying– i was just being protective.

i am not functional without Prozac.  i have come to terms with it– it is the life i live.  when the postpartum from my daughter became too much to bear– and i felt i couldn’t hold her in my arms because she deserved better than the piece of shit mother she was given… i had to get help.  for months, my life after her birth was the darkest time in my life.  i found the energy to make it to my psychiatrist even when i couldn’t get out of the car.  the office coordinator met me outside, sat down on the ground and talked me through an unbearable moment.  together, my psychiatrist and my therapist…. saved me. they’ve both seen me in my darkest moments.

a few weeks ago the darkness was creeping in again.  some of the most hurtful words of my life were said– lies were told– i stood my ground… at least i tried.  i stood my ground until i couldn’t stand any longer.  i texted my therapist– “i’m not feeling like myself… it’s all too much… everyone deserves better than me…i can’t do it anymore.”  She wanted to see me– I refused.  I needed to finish work that day.  I had to show the world I was okay.

I left work a few hours early and then went home and crumbled.  i impulsively cut my hair because– why the hell not?  i wanted to be different… look different– not be who i am.  things got darker… &  hours later i started vomiting and nearly fainted.  i realized i hadn’t really eaten or drank much all day.  –after some sleep, some water and some more vomiting…i fell asleep on my couch.

the next day i texted my psychiatrist.  i have my psych’s number for emergencies only.  i’ve used it maybe twice in all of the years i’ve been seeing her.  she told me to come in immediately.  my blood pressure was very high– my pulse was very high… and i was inconsolable.  she called my husband to discuss a care plan and i fell backward into the chair collapsing on the arms and relying on them to hold me upright.  i stared out the window and wondered how i was here… again.

when she came back the plan was decided.  i was out of work for 2 weeks at least– with regular check ins for my vitals and mental state.  my appointment tomorrow will determine if i am fit enough to return to work.

every single day of my leave- i have desperately tried to relax… it was hard at first.  my brain was on steroids– i was worried… terrified, anxious, crazy.  i listened to my doctor– i took my medication and things started to become a little more manageable.  i slept… a lot.  mental exhaustion is very real.  i’ve been exhausted for months.  i got a completely new haircut– i attended meetings at my son’s school… i prayed– i watched trash TV– i read …i saw friends i haven’t seen in months.  these moments have felt really good.  i’ve felt more myself– and as a result, i’ve had real moments of being present with my children and enjoying them in these amazing stages in their lives.  i’ve had the complete support of my husband who comes through for me time and time again.  i don’t deserve him but God blessed me with him and he’s rescued me more times than i can count.

so what is the point of this post?  i don’t know.  i just felt the need to write it.  i felt the need to let you know that my thanksgiving turkey and stuffing were delicious and my carrot cake turned out beautifully and was well received… my kids actually smiled in their school pictures– they’re SO smart and the lights of my life… and my husband and i are incredibly in love and he’s perfect… and every other fucking thing that everyone puts on social media.  i let you guys know that all the time if you follow my newsfeed.  but you know what– it’s not all gravy (see what i did there?) all the time.  the turkey may be good but the traveling is taxing.  the kids smiled in their pictures but bitched me out over not making hot dogs for dinner… or threw a tantrum over not getting to eat fruit snacks after school when i barely held it together that day at work.  my husband is my love– but sometimes he pisses me the hell off …and some moments i’m a whole lot to handle for him.  sometimes i call him an asshole and he really hates it– sometimes he treats me like a 3rd child and i scream at him for it.  and sometimes– i smile at you at work and tell you things are fine… i’m just tired.. –but sometimes… things are not fine.  it’s too much …and this time– it caught up with me.

i’m still struggling.  i’m still hurting- and truth be told, i’m terrified to go back to work.  i still don’t feel 100% and keep having crying spells and fits of feeling like a complete failure.  –but i’m better.  i got help.  i’ve had so many texts and calls and visits from good friends who know my heart.  their support- their own strength… their love– continues to help me through this hard time.  God I’ve needed it.  I’ve needed every kind word.. every heartfelt concern… every positive message.  It is SO important to tell the ones you love that you love them.  they NEED to know.  they need to know what you mean to them.  sometimes – they need to know that others see the true person they are when they’re telling themselves that the lies they’ve heard  and the words they’ve suffered from may actually be the truth.

through it all, the people i respect the most have supported me and loved me.  the people that matter– know my heart and love me even if i haven’t felt “normal.”  i am so grateful.

prayers for a positive psychiatric check up tomorrow and strength for the weeks to come.  <3.

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Repost: My postpartum experience

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Stock Photo.  Posed by Model.  Freeimages.com/Anna B.

[This was originally posted on my other blog and was featured on The Mighty .  I decided to share it here to help other mothers in a similar situation.  Postpartum depression, OCD and anxiety are difficult.  You CAN feel better.  I implore you to reach out to a friend, family member or medical professional if you are suffering.  xoxo.]

Night time is here and as I sit here with a soon-to-be 8 month old,  sleeping peacefully in her rocker, I think back on the day’s events.  This is a routine for me.  I get my daughter to sleep, zone out for a bit reading articles/news/social media and before I get started on my work for the night I take a moment to reflect on my day.  Today I got to catch up with an old friend.  We chatted about her work, my work, day to day lives, our husbands and then my kids.  My daughter showed off her new crawling skills and even managed to kick my friend’s coffee cup out of her hand, spilling coffee all over her sweater. (This is why my wardrobe consists of leggings and t-shirts.) I stared at my daughter as I often do, beaming with pride over how fast she’s becoming so mobile, and then thought about how last week she wasn’t crawling at all.  It seemed like yesterday that I was just bringing her home from the hospital.  I shared this with my friend and before I knew it I was telling her all about labor, delivery and the horrible postpartum depression and anxiety I suffered through.  It is not my favorite part of this life I am building with my little one, but it has been an important part.  I’ve learned a lot from my suffering.

I’d been in labor for about 17 hours.  The time was finally here to push and after only two pushes, the doctor was throwing my little girl onto my chest.  I remember feeling the weight of her little body resting on me and being so relieved the pain was finally over.  I kissed my husband, cried, looked at her, cried some more… and then I asked the doctor if I was bleeding too much.  From that moment on, for the next few months — everything would be one giant blur.  The minute my body recognized I was no longer pregnant and the hormones did whatever the hormones do, I was not the same.  I obsessed over my postpartum bleeding.  I convinced myself I was swelling and that my blood pressure would sky rocket.  I called the nurse in every few minutes to examine the swelling in my feet (there was none).  My brain was on a roller coaster that had no end.  I couldn’t stop obsessing.  I couldn’t stop crying.  I didn’t sleep for the next two days at least.

I knew that I shouldn’t have left the hospital without being put on some sort of brain medication but I was so set on breastfeeding.  I had the Solly baby wrap, I had the breast pump.  I had everything I needed to be supermom.  I was going to breastfeed her for a year.  I was going to conquer this crippling anxiety because I had to.  I got home and I collapsed.  I couldn’t sleep.  I couldn’t eat.  I couldn’t do anything but cry, shake, panic, pace.  I couldn’t see my postpartum bleeding without feeling sick and having a panic attack.  I called the hospital nearly every night after I was discharged.  I called to ask if things I was experiencing were normal.  I called because I had a temperature of 99-something even though the handout I was given said to only call if it was above 100.4 .  I took my temperature exactly 200 times that night.  My husband grew concerned and called my parents.  I was losing my mind.  I was trying so hard to control my thoughts and feelings but they were so far gone at this point.  I was unrecognizable.

Only a week after having my daughter I got a minor infection and had to take antibiotics.  I had to stop nursing temporarily so she wouldn’t be exposed to the medication.  I started my daughter on formula.  This was my breaking point.  I hated myself.  I couldn’t do anything right.  The world was cruel in my eyes.  I’d wanted nothing more than to breastfeed and here I was, only 1 week postpartum and I was already “giving up.”  I told my parents that I was a horrible mother.  I lashed out at my husband…I didn’t want to exist.  I was so ashamed of myself.  I was so sorry for my daughter.  She deserved a mother that was so much better.  She deserved a mother that had her life together.  The hatred for myself surpassed everything.  I couldn’t even look at her.  My husband would take care of her and offer her to me.  I kept telling myself to hold her… take her… cuddle her.  I told myself to like it.  The truth was– she reminded me of what a failure I was.  When I recognized that I “didn’t want to hold her,” I knew something was definitely off.  I needed help.

For 6 straight weeks after delivery I was never alone.  I had an AMAZING support system.  My husband, my family, my friends.  They were all here.  Someone stayed with me constantly.  They helped take care of my babies and they helped take care of me.  My OBGYN called to check on me.  She saw me every time I called my doctor’s office with some new irrational fear.  She talked me through my postpartum depression.  She built me up.  My psychiatrist listened to my fears about medication and relayed to me her own postpartum experiences.  A member of her staff even came to my car to talk to me when I was sobbing too hard to go into the building.  My therapist, a Godsend, has helped me every step of the way.

As I sit here nearly 8 months later I can’t help but feel grateful for my experience.  I know that probably sounds completely crazy– but its true.  I learned from my postpartum depression and anxiety that every mother’s story is different.  This idea of the perfect mother I had in my head was just that, an idea.  It wasn’t reality.  Motherhood is messy.  Life is messy.  It never goes to plan.  I was dealt a hand of crappy cards.  My hormones were out of control.  They were bigger than my obsessive need to control them.  Because I couldn’t do it alone, did not make me a failure.  The important thing was connecting with my daughter.  The important thing was being happy and healthy for myself and for her.  I wasn’t currently the mother she deserved but I could get there.  I worked hard the next few months to get on medication that helped me level out.  I made sure to get some sleep.  I meditated.  I went to therapy.  I prayed.  I survived.

My relationship with my baby is better than I ever could have imagined.  She and her brother are the lights of my life.  They are the joy I feel in my heart every single day.  I am so blessed to be their mother.  All of those days I spent worrying about the bond that would be destroyed between my daughter and I were for nothing.  She loves me.  She smiles when I smile.  She laughs when I laugh… she knows my heart.  She knows I always loved her and will always love her, even when my mental health issues overwhelmed me.  Postpartum depression and anxiety are scary, hard and exhausting.  It is so important to see a doctor, build a support system and ask for help.  They say it “takes a village to raise a child.”  My village saved me.  And because I’ve been through such a dark time, the good times are now just a little bit brighter than they would have been.  I can see how fortunate I am and feel that gratitude on a new level.   I experienced postpartum depression and anxiety.  Something I can now say without shame.  I survived postpartum depression and anxiety.  Something I can now say with pride.