Tag Archives: postpartum depression

“Trapped in the circumference of my head.”

4 Dec

This is not a happy post. But it is hopeful. And hopeful is the best we can do.

***

I love home decorating, especially covering my walls with meaningful pieces, as  511 suggests.

But in all honesty, I am not yet in a place in my life where I can collect a lot of real art;

I have my framed piece from the Festival Internacional de Musica en Barcelona in my Living Room

and a photo of Keith Richards that my dad shot as the Stones played in Hyde Park last summer, which hangs in my Entry Way.

And this and that.

I have but one piece of true art in my home, and it means a great deal to me. It is a framed and signed poem by Ray Bradbury, given to us as a wedding gift, from an incredibly person in our lives.

It is so significant for so many reasons; I am obsessed with words;

It is something so unique and rare;

It reminds me (us) of just how complex, complicated, confusing and often consuming the human mind can be.

Here is the text:

THE POET CONDIDERS HIS RESOURCES

The autumn sea, October sea
Tears darkened seams inconstantly
And stitches clouds with rain and fire
And charcoals hearths with dead desire
And turns old souls on burning spit,
Forget all Good, because of it;
Because of traveling night and clouds
Which bury moon in winding shrouds
The heart is buried , blood turned ice
And all the fruit jams, teas, and spice
Are pantry poisoned, forced to change
By weathers that incline to strange.
So what was dead now bolts upright
To knock is head on lid`s midnight,
And while all cold things jump and start,
Antarctica floes in warm heart
And tropic seas of blood are purged
By nightmare iceburgs, once submerged
Which now lift blizzard brows to seize
Sane room, sane door, sane locks ,sane keys,
And shriek the tumblers , warp the walls
With panic-colored storms and squalls.
And all of it, both live and dead ?
. . .
Trapped in circumference of my head.

Ray Bradbury 1979

Tonight I am brought back to the piece I wrote about depression, entitled, “Oh Captain, My Captain”, in which I discussed mental illness after Robin Williams’ devastating suicide.

In that piece, I made a plea to the people reading to help to protect their friends. I also tried to remind sufferers that they are not alone.

But today I had a conversation that explains it so perfectly.

If you have never experienced depression (which as of two years ago, I had not, in any way) it is very hard to understand.

It is insidious and it is debilitating.

But I think the most confusing part, despite the notion of “But you have so much, what could possibly be making you sad?”

is the feeling of abject loneliness.

Someone who is depressed feels so lonely. They can be surrounded by people, with friends, at a holiday dinner, not alone in any way, but still terribly lonely.

It feels like drowning.

I am welling up with tears even typing this, as it is the worst feeling imaginable.

I am lucky enough to have a network of soul friends, as I call them, who can relate to me on this deep level of understanding that only sufferers can. But my heart aches for them, my stomach gnaws at itself, every time I hear that they were unable to get out of bed that day, or are feeling at their lowest, or can’t imagine ever feeling better.

I am not a doctor. I am also not “better”. I am still dealing with a lot. But, if there is any message I can impart to you

(and hopefully, if you know someone in need, you can share this with them, I implore you),

it is that things can and will get better. Even at the worst of times, when you can’t move or breathe or open your eyes because everything looks too bleak, but you can’t close your eyes because your brain is pounding you with it’s incessant ruminations and chatter,

it will pass.

That spell will pass.

I believe in intervention. I believe in therapy. I believe in medicine. I believe in alternative medicine. I believe in support systems.

I believe in holding your best friend’s hand and saying “I am not going to let you go anywhere.”

This post may seem out of the blue, as the last thing I posted about was my son watching Bravo TV, but trust me, it needs to be said.

Much love.

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I just realized.

25 Nov

I am going to admit something difficult. Today has been a hard day.

My daughter finally got to go back to school, which is wonderful.

This is finally happening, which is also wonderful…

except that it means that they are currently jack-hammering the perimeter of an 1100 square foot basement. It’s a little loud.

So my son’s 2 hour morning nap was cut to 15 minutes.

I don’t like to bother my family and friends with my problems; I know that may seem surprising, as I am constantly talking about my incredible support system, but I desperately do not want to be self-involved or insensitive of their time or to worry them. I keep a lot in. But today, I felt like I could admit it. I spoke with my dear friend of over 13 years this morning about the crippling anxiety I was feeling. She guided me through some techniques to assuage the feelings.

And I told my mom, which is something that I have rarely done as of late. And she said that what I am feeling–this heaviness–is all because of what is coming up on Thursday. Thursday is Thanksgiving, for which I am more thankful than ever, but it is also the anniversary of a very troubled time in my life.

And then my mommom called to invite us to the mall and I wasn’t able to go because of the whole baby no-nap situation and she knew I was anxious and she said, “I am always just a phone call away. Although my fax machine broke this morning and I am so frustrated, I don’t know what to do.”

I assured her that I wouldn’t be faxing her with an SOS, so that she could take that off of her list of worries.

And then I texted with a special friend, a friend who gets me, because she sat on the floor with me all last winter, even through my darkest of times, as our babies rolled around and drooled on each other. And I told her that I felt as though I was unraveling. And she made it better.

And all of those things that I just wrote about are concrete examples of the incredible tribe that I have surrounding me.

But then I did the most important thing of all;

I picked up my son and looked into his eyes. I kissed his face and nuzzled him into my cheek and inhaled him so deeply.

“I love you, I love you, I love you.”

I asked him if he wanted a baba. “Baba!” he said.

My son, who is now learning to talk, and learning to walk, and dances when he hears music and squeals with glee over Lola and knows to pet her ever so gently and who understands everything we say; As I looked at him, I felt more love for him than I have ever felt for him before.

And then it hit me;

My daughter is, and has always been, so obviously my dream come true. She is named the name we chose 3 months into dating and that I chose when I was 10 years old. She is exactly like me in looks and personality. We are so bonded. She is my heart and soul.

But my son, my dear son

just may be the very best thing that has ever happened to me.

I looked over to the framed painting I made for him that hangs in the corner of his nursery.

Take me where the music’s playing

Get me on the dance floor, hold me a little closer.

And I swayed with my son, my lips to his cheek, and the deluge of memories of the past year poured over me.

He has taught me that I could overcome things that I never imagined I would be strong enough to endure.

He may drive me crazy with his “lively antics”, but oh my goodness, my son is the best thing that has ever happened to me.

He redefined me.

He has given me purpose.

He opened up parts of me that I didn’t know existed.

His first year was not filled with the magic and enchantment like it was with his sister.

He didn’t come out looking like me or acting in a way that I understood inherently.

But I now rock him to bed every night, and I look down at his sleeping face and I marvel at how he looks exactly the same as he did when they would place him next to me to nurse in the hospital bed.

This little ball of energy and activity and constant movement and craziness has saved me.

Remind me to thank him for it.

Letting it go.

20 Nov

photo-13

This was sent to me yesterday by a dear friend. I needed it.

I then sent it to another dear friend. She needed it.

Every day, we all carry things with us; hopes, fears, ideas, identities…

Some of these things lift us up. Some of my labels I wear proudly:

Wife, mother, friend, daughter, grand-daughter, teacher, twin, writer, confidant, sister,

dance partier, loud laugher, decorator, front-woman for a rock band…

Yet there are some layers of myself that I wish to shed.

I will probably always be on the slightly anxious end of the anxiety spectrum.

But I would love to no longer be a sufferer. A worrier. A scaredy-cat.

Those things weigh me down. They are the labels that can make minutes feel like hours, make days feel dark and make my stomach feel like it has a led weight inside of it.

I want to be lighter.

So I am making a conscious effort to take off the things that I no longer wish to wear.

I have written many times over the past year about the shift in my friendships; that through the trauma of postpartum depression and it’s after effects, my friends have become my family. We talk every single day. They humor me when I send out 15 emails about our holiday cookie Pollyanna party, because they know how important it is for me to embrace this holiday season. They are just my people.

Then there are the new friends I have made. They have changed my life. The ones who spent last year sitting on the floor with me, as I opened up about my depression. The ones who have been so selfless. The one whom I’ve followed on the internet for years, and turned out to be even more beautiful and amazing and spectacular in person. The one who understands every one of my faults and loves me because of them, not in spite of them. The one who sees a pair of Fox leggings in the store and buys them for me, because…obviously. These friends have been a gift. I carry them with me, now.

And as far as everyone and everything else,

all the drama and the ghosts and the pain that try to cloud my mind and cause me anxiety, I am trying to let it go.

Like Elsa.

Just letting it go.

I don’t want to carry them with me anymore.

And so I won’t.

“I’ll be getting stronger.”

14 Nov

I don’t mean to sound melodramatic, and I certainly am NOT looking for pity, when I just say, honestly, that this past year I have been kicked when I have already been ever so down. I have been laid pretty low.

And I have nightmares. That is a very personal thing to admit, but it’s true. (I erased that sentence four times before deciding to leave it.) I have bad dreams about the things and people who have hurt me. It is hard, and it makes me clench my teeth at night, so I have developed TMJ. Which in the scheme of things, is nothing; but a physically painful reminder of things I would like to forget.

I wrote a friend this morning when I woke up at 5am. “Why won’t they stop??” I asked.

I spoke to my husband over lunch and talked with him about it, too. “What do you think this is really about? Will they go away?”

But the main sentiment is that this past year has been traumatic, and trauma leads to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which is something that i have. And it takes awhile to get over. So I am working every single minute of every single day to get stronger.

And just now I decided to play some Sesame Street videos for my baby who never slows down enough to watch any kind of TV whatsoever (how did this person come out of ME?!?!?!?!) and I came across an old favorite that my daughter used to love;

Will.i.am. singing “What I am”

and as silly and as lame as it may sound, this song touched me. It gave me warm memories of my big girl being a baby; it stopped my son for 15 second intervals, as he watched and listened; I felt empowered by it’s message and I felt so glad that children would be taught the same.

And what I am is thoughtful
and what I am is musical
and what I am is smart
and what I am is brave
and what I am is helpful
and what I am is special
There’s nothing I can’t achieve.
Because in myself I believe in…

Gonna hold my head up high
Keep on reaching high

Never gonna stop
I’ll be getting stronger.

I hope you enjoy. Have a very happy, peaceful weekend. And be good to yourself. I insist.

“Everything is Not Okay”

11 Nov

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This summer, I was fortunate enough to be asked to participate in a story for Main Line Parent Magazine. I was approached after publishing my originally story on my postpartum depression. They took my story, and the stories of two other women, to print a feature in the goal of helping others, which is all that I want to do. I want mental illness to be de-stigmatized, I want those in trouble to seek treatment and I want to provide solace in those who feel alone. In sharing my story I hope to help others who are feeling lost to find their way.

Mad props to Carrie Bender Hill of Carrie Hill Photography who captured some exquisite family portraits for us to cherish. I have already framed two for our living room (thanks, again, Carrie!)

You can look for the latest issue of Main Line Parent Magazine, or you can enjoy the online copy here:

The title says it all. Everything is not okay. But some things are. And those are the things I hold onto.

What makes it all worth it.

6 Nov

So, this is a tough week. I knew it would be, and it did not disappoint. I was haunted by ghosts, plagued by nightmares, and sometimes, I felt like I was drowning. It is hard for me to admit that in actual words, by the way–to confess that I feel weak and helpless and most especially that people who have hurt me continue to cause me pain. But, life moves on. And today, I spoke to a few different people about how this “anniversary” of sorts will get easier and easier as the years pass, and someday, perhaps, I won’t remember it at all. Because I will have so many good moments and important moments and milestones that I will know what happened in 2013/2014 intellectually, but it will no longer cause me this acute sort of stabbing pain.

Today I had some really interesting conversations and special moments.

I was able to confide in a dear friend as we talked about how motherhood can be very isolating and lonely. Just being able to say it to each other proves that neither of us are alone. She embodies companionship for me, and for that I am supremely grateful.

I was able to thank a new friend for being in my life, as we are building a bond that we both look forward to exploring and strengthening.

I texted with one of my main peeps (a best friend since first grade) and we talked about how much we love our children and each others’ children and how things are hard, but we are so lucky. And we were able to text each other about our own neuroses. And we get each other like no one else does.

And I received a tremendous amount of support this week, online, with phonecalls, emails, messages, comments and in every way possible, and I am so grateful. Thank you.

And if you asked me at 3:15 today how I was feeling (which my sister did via text) I replied, “Bad and good.”

Bad because I have some very difficult things that are right at the surface and I can’t seem to push them down and hide them under a rug. (Not even my new, fancy furry one by my fireplace.)

But I was also good. And not just good, I was really good. Because my kids and I were playing in the sunroom, as rain pelted down on the skylight above us, and I saw my daughter and my son making each other laugh and I felt grateful and joyful.

And as I type this, I find myself crying happy.

I am so fortunate

(by the way, I apologize for the rambling and poor writing; my dad actually asked me earlier this evening over the phone if I had “forgotten how to talk” because my brain doesn’t seem to be functioning properly. I think there’s a lot going on in there).

and what makes me feel good is that not only did I get to experience some special moments with my two happy, healthy kids today, but I actually was able to be present, and acknowledge, in the moment, just how at peace they made me feel and they reminded me how to be happy. I enjoyed life as it was happening, in real time. That is a gift.

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This afternoon, we made a family band,

(mostly percussion, with a little singing and a brief kazoo moment)

and I was bursting with love.

This site is not one where I try to make everything seem rosy. I think that is apparent. But I did take a lesson away from today, which is that although I may have bad moments, and bad weeks, and even bad years,

I also have so much, with incredible friends,

I mean incredible,

and a family whom I can count on endlessly,

and two kids, who laugh and kiss me and ask to hold my hand or to find the Barbie mermaid’s tiara

and shake some maracas with me when I am feeling low.

And that is what will get me through this,

and they are who make it all worth it.

Snapshot of a Day

4 Nov

Tuesday, November 4th.

It is Election Day.

It is my Poppy Don’s 86th birthday.

It is the date when my son was supposed to have his bris, had he not come 4 days before his scheduled C-Section.

But this Tuesday is also an anniversary, and not a good one.
A year ago on the Tuesday of this week I received that first, fateful text from my husband that read, “Are you OK? I am getting a little worried about you. I see the light starting to go out in your eyes.”

And that was the beginning of the worst year of my life; It has been worse than all of my other years combined. And so I was dreading this week, as in some ways I am re-experiencing all of the fear and negative emotions of this day last year, like a victim of PTSD. I have nightmares. A lead weight sits in my chest.

But, it’s funny how life works.

Because it is Election Day, I had both kids home with me today, and because my daughter was a bit under the weather we had no plans. It was nice at times, and hard at others, and sometimes it got to the point where I felt like I was drowning in my anxiety. I thought back to this Tuesday last year. I can remember so many details of the things that were plaguing me then, and thinking about some of the events of that week made me feel physically ill. This is something I have never discussed on here before, but that week I was not only being hurt by the chemicals that began to swirl in scary ways in my mind, but I was being hurt by someone who I once considered a very dear friend. At the time, I did not know I was being manipulated by a master,

all I knew was that I was being made to suffer in agony at my most vulnerable of times. This person abandoned me during my lowest point last winter, despite a promise to “be there forever”, and while at the time it was a crushing blow, I now look at it as my greatest blessing. I don’t have to endure the pain of that poison anymore.

I remember it being 11 o’clock in the morning on this Tuesday of last year, and looking down at my phone and seeing that text from my husband and feeling loved, but also feeling scared, because he was right. My light was dimming. The initial high of having a new baby, a baby who was healthy and cute and who nursed well and whom I loved dearly from the start (and the high from my Dilauded Rx) was fading, as I began my slow descent into the abyss.

There are certain dates I remember about the past year that are very significant to me. I remember my son’s birth, of course, and our magical hospital stay. I remember his Bris, and how my girlfriends piled into bed with me as we ate Cronuts that my sister scored from the coveted NYC bakery. I remember Thanksgiving when I sat in the corner, alone and virtually catatonic. And I remember this week.

So, today started off hard. I confided in some of my friends as we messaged throughout the morning, and unsurprisingly I was met with great encouragement and support. But as the day went on, my daughter got sicker and sicker as she appeared to be coming down with some kind of nasty bug. Mommom came over and when I told her about the significance of today, she said, “But look. Look where you are now. You are great now.” And this is something Mommom does. She says that everything is great, whether it is or not. No matter what the ailment, she says “You’ll be fine.” It is her coping mechanism, learned at an early age, and it is something that is sometimes comforting and sometimes frustrating.

I rolled my eyes at her.

“Really?” I asked, as clearly I am still struggling a great deal. Physically I am still dealing with some major issues and emotionally, each day is a new hill to climb. But she assured me by saying, “Look what you’re doing. You want to get out there. You’re doing things with friends and making new friends and making plans. That is better.”

And I didn’t think much of it. But an hour later, my daughter got even worse. She complained that she was freezing cold, refused my offer of toys and cookies and said she just wanted to sleep (she has not taken a single nap in almost 2 years). So she climbed into my bed with me, as she curled up under the covers on my side, and my son curled up on the other, and the three of us slept. Before drifting off, I got an overwhelming feeling of gratitude. Being in my bed, snuggled up with my two babies felt like such a blessing. And even though it was under less than desirable circumstances, it felt like home.

When the kids woke up nearly two hours later they immediately reached over my lap for one another and held hands. I only had my iPhone to capture the moment, and the room was dark, so the photo is grainy, but my kids grasped each other, anchoring themselves to one another and to me and anchoring me to reality. Things did feel a bit better.

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And we all trekked downstairs, and my daughter needed a blanket and orange juice and the episode of Yo Gabba Gabba about the Doctor and my son needed his afternoon bottle and my dog needed to go outside and I needed to have a snack and call the pediatrician and as I juggled these things, both figuratively and actually literally (at one point I was balancing many things in one arm, including my 26 lb son) I thought, “I am doing this. I am taking care of business. I am taking care of two children and a dog and myself and  I know what I am doing.

I’ve got this.”

And then Mommom’s words echoed in my ear.

As much as I feel like I am still in the depths of this thing, this awful thing that happened last year and swallowed me up and spit me out and left me weak and vulnerable and tired,

I am doing it. I am being a mom, and I think I am being a good one. And I realized that my grandmother was right.

So while today started off with a heaviness around it, it has lightened;

even though life circumstances actually got worse throughout the day, my perspective changed.

Like the grainy photograph of my kids holding hands, all of my tools are there,

it just isn’t always easy for me to see them clearly. But life isn’t made of moments captured in perfect lighting with a high resolution camera. It is spontaneous flashes of joy, snapped hastily, but still able to be savored despite their blurriness.

This Fall may be hard for me. It may be difficult me to get through each of the dates that remind me of my roughest times of the last year.

But as long as my kids keep holding hands,

and as long as I keep taking that in,

I think I am going to be OK.