Poem: Survivor

Poem about the hospital stay. Sometimes the only way to cope with things is to write.

Survivor

If only these walls
would tumble down.
Would I find myself
in this place?
These walls haunt me.
These tears a
constant reminder
you’re not here..
This pain in my chest
is no longer
from this darkness
but because I’m
doing this alone.
The strength within.
The will to live,
I’ll have to find a way.
Misunderstood, unheard.
How can you be here to help?
You’ve taken so much from me.
You’ve caused me pain.
You’ve controlled me long enough.
I won’t let you take me down.
You’ll make me stronger.
You’ll empower me.
You’ll cause me to create change.
You no longer haunt me.
You no longer control me.
You no longer define me.
Because of you
I’ll make a difference.
Because of you
I’ve found my passion.
Because of you
I’ve found my place.

Poem: The Mask

A poem about the recovery the months following the hospital stay. Everyone seemed to think the hospital would magically fix the problem and the pain and medication adjustments lasted another 6 months before I felt like I was really starting to make progress.

The Mask

You see the smile
All I see is the pain

You see the happy pictures
All I see is the mask
That I put on

Those that know
Think I’m recovering
They don’t really know
It’s only getting worse

The trauma is piling up
And they think
The meds have fixed it all

I still see the pain
Behind every fake smile

I still see the struggle
I’m trying not to show

I still see the pain
piercing through my heart

You’ve stopped reaching out
Because you think it’s all done
But for me the healings just begun.

My Motherhood Shame

I’ve been thinking about you for days. Wanting to post but feeling none of my drafts were the ones to be posted this week. I had plans of sharing some poetry but it just didn’t feel right. For some reason I feel today I need to get much more personal and I’m really not  sure what direction this will go.

There is so much shame surrounding motherhood mental health, not just postpartum mental health illnesses. I think so many mothers don’t share their thoughts or feelings because they believe they are the only ones to think and feel them. I know I did.

I always wanted to be a mother. I wanted to go to college teach at a deaf school for a few years and then settle down to raise a large family, I mean large. I thought I would love motherhood with all my heart even though it wouldn’t be easy and would be exhausting. I came from a large family I wasn’t completely naive to what motherhood would taste like.

Life doesn’t seem to go as planned, but even so it’s good to make plans and have dreams. I became a mother much younger than planed. Even so the transition seemed to be smooth. I didn’t struggle as I thought I would with becoming a mom. I did have problems breastfeeding, postpartum depression, and a hard recovery but the actual “moming” part was exactly as I expected. I even felt guilty some days that I was the one home raising our son because it seemed like my husband got the rotten end of the deal. That was until our second son came along 20 months later.

I was so angry after his birth. I blew up at the kids at the smallest things. I was convinced my oldest son was going to die so I never left the house except for walks. I didn’t know it at the time but my postpartum anxiety was through the roof.

Our second son was only 6 months old when I thought I had the flu. Five days into the flu I decided to take a pregnancy test to rule it out. I was in bit of a shock when I found out I was pregnant and couldn’t even wait to tell my husband so I sent him a text on the spot.

All of my pregnancies came with some severe complications. Pregnancy to say the least is not something I like going through. When I was 8 months pregnant I  laid in bed screaming from some very large kidney stones that had developed due to the pregnancy. My 5 lb baby kicked non stop at them which made the agony so much worse. To ease my pain my husband helped me into the bath. He left to get me something and I looked at the water and thought slipping into this and never coming back would be so nice right now. I seriously considered it for a moment until I realized I’d be ending another life, not just my own. I couldn’t do that. So I sat and cried in pain.

The depression didn’t let up the rest of the pregnancy. I honestly wasn’t sure if I had postpartum depression or prenatal depression. Either way it was a dark time in my life. Our third son was welcomed into the world at 37 weeks. Our oldest was still 2 years old and our second was just 15 months. My hands were full and for a moment so was my heart. At five days old I ended up in the ER with my nursing newborn because I was in so much pain. We weren’t sure if I had a blood clot or an infection. After a few tests were ran we discovered some of my placenta hadn’t detached and I had developed an infection.

Three kids under the age of three was a lot to juggle. After not successfully nursing my first two kids past three months I was determined to make it work. So every hour night and day you’d find me nursing the baby. Didn’t matter if I was pushing a shopping cart through the store, making peanut butter sandwiches or reading a book to the kids.

To leave the house it took two hours of prep work. I nursed, started getting everyone dressed, a snack and diapers changed. Then I’d have to nurse again, pack the diaper bag and schedule ten minutes to load the kids up in the car. It was exhausting yet I tried to find a way to make it work.

It was at this point I started to wonder why anyone even likes to be a mother. I hated it. I dreaded every morning and looked forward to bedtime. I’m not sure why as I then was up every hour to nurse. Just to repeat the next day. I was very depressed but didn’t tell anyone.

Everyone told me I was super woman but I felt far from it, I didn’t even like my kids. Taking care of them was a chore and I’d  become extremely jealous of my husband being able to work. I would become angry every time he spoke of lunches served at work, or talking to other adults during the day. I hated that I was in a  prison.

When my son was 9 months old I began to learn how to take care of myself again and slowly I felt like I started to find myself. By the time he was a year I had lost all my baby weight from my first three pregnancies and was feeling so much better about myself. I wasn’t hating motherhood though I longed to work outside the house or go back to school. I wanted so badly to impact the world in a way that would matter. In a way that went beyond my four walls.

It was when my youngest was 18 months old that I discovered I was pregnant with the son who brought me here, to writing these blogs and breaking the silence. I broke inside finding out I was pregnant. It crushed me. I wanted so badly for God to take it back. I even went has far as to think if I miscarried that would be okay. I had had three previously so it wasn’t out of the question. I felt so guilty for thinking that.

I had postpartum psychosis after him (you can read more about that in previous blogs).  It was after him that I began to wish I had never become a mother. I felt lied to by society and the medical field. Motherhood was nothing like what I was told it would be and nobody sat down and told me how many risk factors I had for postpartum mental health problems. If I’d been educated all of those things would have been taken into consideration before bringing biological kids into this world.

I wondered if any other mothers felt as I did but I didn’t dare ask because what if they didn’t?  That would make me look like an awful mother. What if I told them I didn’t want to be a mom, that God could take them back, that if I could go back in time I’d do it differently. How could I share that? Surely I’m the only one who doesn’t like my kids or motherhood.

What I’ve learned about breaking the silence, being courages enough to speak my truth through the shame is I’m not the only one who feels like this at times. Even though I had these thoughts, and sometimes still question why I’m a mother, it doesn’t make me a bad mom. I love my children fiercely, they are why I’m still standing. My determination to be a good mom for them even while I was fighting so many demons.

I’m not sure why I felt the need to ramble through this other than to break the silence for myself. Maybe to help a mother who has had these intrusive thoughts as well or someone who is struggling with the guilt. Perhaps to help break through the shame we feel when we don’t love motherhood or it doesn’t come easily to us. No matter the reason thanks for sticking it out with me.

The Diamond in the Rough

Much like listening to the same song over and over I feel like I can get stuck on repeat in recovery. Finding the same issue resurfacing again and again. It can hurt. It can be frustrating and it most definitely has made me feel defeated at times.

I’ve started to compare my mental recovery to healing from a surgery. It’s really painful in the beginning then slowly the pain comes down as you do things to help it. After that as you heal from the outside people no longer think of your recovery but you still feel the incisions brushing against your clothing, irritated and sometimes painful but most definitely uncomfortable.
Continue reading

The Shadow in the Night

I can’t sleep, the nightmare haunts me. I wake with my heart pounding unable to shake the feeling of being trapped. Nobody talks about these things. The nightmares, the sleepless nights long after the baby starts sleeping through the night.

I struggle to find peace after these nights. I can’t seem to anchor myself into the present. The things that happened when I was at rock bottom seem to try and bring me back down. I wish I had an easy solution for once. Continue reading

Undertow

“God, keep my head above water
I lose my breath at the bottom
Come rescue me, I’ll be waiting
I’m too young to fall asleep”

– Avril Lavigne- Head Above Water-

*Talk of Postpartum Psychosis and suicide*

My baby was two weeks old when I started to feel crazy. Crazy was the only word I could use to describe it. Even so I just told my husband I had postpartum depression. I knew in my heart it wasn’t, but I hoped it anyway. I was well versed with postpartum depression as I had experienced it after each child as well as postpartum anxiety. Before the birth of my fourth baby I’d never heard of postpartum psychosis.

I wasn’t sure at first if I was just “seeing” things or if they were really there. At first that’s all it was. A shadow out the corner of my eye.  Paranoid someone was following me at all times. Even in my own home. I could feel them watch me through the window as I moved from room to room.

My baby was three weeks old the first time I knew I was seeing someone. It was dark outside as I stood rocking side to side trying to get him to fall asleep. I saw the man, knowing he had a gun and that he wanted me dead. I felt so panicked. I didn’t know what to do.. so I held still hoping if I didn’t move he wouldn’t see me. He obviously didn’t kill me and I wondered why he hadn’t. It terrified me. It was from this point on nearly every time I walked out of my house I thought I would be killed.

As odd as this sounds it scared me to think of being murdered but in my mind I could see in great detail what I planned to do to end my life. As time went on seeing my plan on repeat like a movie in my mind I’d become completely numb to the idea.

Struggling, drowning, unable to breathe. These words can’t begin to describe the agony I felt everyday. I wasn’t sure how I’d make it through the next task. I didn’t know how I was going to keep my kids alive each day. The thought of having to feed them made me cry because it was so overwhelming. Getting my son ready and then load the kids up to take him to school gave me such bad anxiety. It exhausted me.

My husband would head out the door in the morning, kissing me goodbye. I’d hold onto him till the last second and often cry. He never understood why but all that was running through my mind was I don’t know if I’ll still be here when you come home. I could never get myself to say that though. If I had things would have turned out differently.

Nursing nearly killed me in itself but somehow also saved me. My baby had a lot of food sensitive’s and some food allergies. I had to follow a strict diet to keep his tummy happy. It was so difficult with the state of mind I was in but him also needing to eat every hour and I being the only one who could feed him gave me enough mom guilt to keep going somedays.

All day I looked forward to bedtime. I’m not sure why as I was waking every hour to feed  a baby. Maybe I thought I’d get a break from my demons, yet I never did. Even so every day I still looked forward to bed, and dreaded the sunrise.

My babe was only 4 months old when I decided on an end date. I had family photos scheduled because I thought the least I could do was leave them with photos. The morning of the family photos the photographer called and told me she was down with the flu and needed to reschedule for two weeks out. I graciously said “Of course, hope you feel better” but moments later was filled with rage and bawled because I needed those family photos to leave them with.

My husband was at work so I let him know no need to come home early, the photos had been rescheduled. I then sat and cried for a good while when my mother in law offered to come get the oldest three to give me a break. Left with only my baby I fed him, laid him in the swing, and walked into my room fully intending to go through with ending my life anyway.

I made it just past my bed when I fell on the floor sobbing, furious with God. Somehow I found myself laying on my bed. I was crying harder than I ever had before. I don’t remember what I said now but I know there was a lot of anger and swearing in there. Then I heard it, my baby was crying. Starving. I looked at the clock and I couldn’t believe two hours had passed. It wasn’t long enough. Somehow I managed to get up, walk out there and pick up my baby. Somehow I managed to sit down and nurse him, staring at the wall. I couldn’t look at him. I still blamed him for this nightmare.

I got a text, my kids were coming home. My heart sank. I wasn’t ready to deal with them too but it was also because I’d ran out of time to end my life. I’d now have to wait for another opportunity. My will to be a good mother always managed to over power my will to die.

I could hear them approaching  the front door. Time to put my game face back on.. nobody could know what I was dealing with on the inside.

I’m Pissed, There I said it

I’m not comfortable with anger. It’s something I’ve avoided dealing with my whole life. I’d rather let things roll off my back than get angry. But if I do get angry I give myself an allotted time to feel it then get over it.

Well unfortunately anger is part of the grief cycle. Yeah, I wasn’t too pleased about it either. It’s a hard emotion to face. It’s an uncomfortable emotion to feel. To just sit in. To allow.

I have a lot I’m grieving through right now. The loss of what was taken from me upon finding out I was pregnant. The loss of my mental health that was triggered by my sons birth. The loss of just mentally being there the first two years of his life because of it. The loss of not bonding with him.

Through all this grieving I’ve landed myself squarely in the anger phase. I’ll say it, I’m PISSED! I’m so pissed I’ve gone through all this. Then I’m pissed that it could have been something magical after he was born but it was far from it. I’m pissed I was one of the “lucky” ones who got to experience postpartum psychosis. I’m pissed.

Life most often doesn’t go the way we expect. We have to learn to deal with that. Growth never happens in your comfort zone. It happens when you step outside it, or in my case was forced outside it. Rather pushed really hard, really far from my comfort zone.

Some days I really feel that angry. It’s in my chest and is roaring to get out. It’s on fire. Some days it’s more recognizing I wish I could go back before all “this” happened. I wish I could go back to the days of just my three boys and I playing trucks on the floor with the sun shining in. The smell of pancakes filled the room because making breakfast for them every morning was something I loved to do. I wish I could see their smiling faces, and hear their laughs as I played crazy with them. I wish I could go back.

But then I think of my fourth son, I think of his goofiness, his laughter, his energy. I think of him running circles with his brothers trying his hardest to be a big boy. I think of his smile as I push him in the swing. Or the joy on his face as he gets into the bike trailer. I think of the smirk he gives me out of the corner of his eye as he steals the last sip of my coffee. When I think of these things I have to think of what he’s added to the family. He didn’t take any of those other things away from me. He is a baby, he’s not responsible for me not getting down on the floor and playing, for not making breakfast every morning. My mental health is responsible. That’s who is to blame. That’s what to get angry at. That is what I am angry at. Even so it took me many many months to remove the blame from my child. He is the evidence of all that took place in my life but not who is to blame. It took me till he was 18 months to remove the blame from him. I think looking back that was the first step in creating a bond with him.

So even though I don’t like saying I’m angry I’m going to sit in it as long as I need to. I’m going to face it head on and not try to shove it aside. I’m going to yell at it, cry over it, and write about it. I’m going to swear at it and be pissed at it. Then at some point I’m going to be able to walk right through it and will be a stronger woman because of it.

What Brought Me Here: Part 5

You can read Part 1, 2, 3, and 4 here.

 

I was numb. I was exhausted, always fighting to keep my eyes open. I was gaining weight rapidly and all of this frustrated me. The medication that I was put on in the hospital that ultimately saved my life had many unpleasant side effects.

I literally felt nothing. I was put on an anti-psychotic which numbed me from feeling. It was designed to knock you out and I was nearly on a full dose of it to stabilize me. I also mentally struggled with the weight gain. Nothing fit. I had gained 40 lbs in 3 three weeks… With a weight gain that fast I was devastated. I had to wait nearly four weeks after being released from the hospital to see the psychiatrist. In the meantime life was still really hard. The only improvement made was that I no longer wanted to end my life and I was no longer being haunted by hallucinations. Continue reading

What Brought Me Here: Part 4

*This blog post is an excerpt from my journal. Trigger warning: suicidal thoughts, and hospitalization*

You can read Part 1, 2, and 3 here.

Written Feb 14, 2019. Events took place the end of January.


 

I don’t think any husband imagines a day when he’d have to walk his wife into the mental hospital. I sure don’t think mine did. We’d been married nearly 7.5 years when my postpartum mental illness finally escalated out of control. It had gradually gotten worse after each birth. Now four sons in I could see no way out.

It was exactly 18 month prior we found ourselves driving to the birthing center for the birth of our unexpected son. He would be the caboose of our family, totaling four boys in five years.

Now 18 month later I sobbed as my husband drove to the mental hospital. I wouldn’t be home there next morning to see my baby be 18 months. I wouldn’t get a picture of us. What hurt the most was the reality that I could never be in another photo again. Never be at another birthday, never play with my kids again. I could steal all those innocent kid years from them in an instant when I wasn’t being myself. Continue reading

What Brought Me Here: Part 3

You can read Part 1, and 2 here

*Warning- talk of suicide*


 

I wouldn’t have imaged trying to find help would be so difficult. I was always led to believe that the hardest part is recognizing you need help and then telling someone. Speaking up, asking for help. No, trying to find that help turned out to be so much harder.

We spent days looking up therapists in our area who said on their website that they specialize in postpartum depression. We made countless calls, leaving as many voice mails as calls to never have a single one respond. It was two weeks leading up to Christmas but still I would have expected a response. Continue reading