A Chore to Breath

My brain’s in a fog. I’m not here at all. Yet I’m fully aware of me. Like everything is looking at me. I can’t talk, I’m dazed, and the wall I’ve stared at for who knows how long now has become a blur.

My gaze is slightly down. I’m not sure where in my thoughts are at. Its like my mind is racing and I’m not able to keep up with it. It makes me feel more crazy than I already am. Continue reading

I’m old school, let’s write it out. A story of Hope

I’m old school. I love the feeling of a good pen in my hand, I prefer the cheap ones actually, they way they roll the ink out on the paper. I even love the slight smell there is after a while. I can sit and write for a very long time if the children allow it.

I write most my blog posts in my journal first. Then type them up. After writing it on paper the keyboard feels nice under my fingertips. Gliding from key to key typing out the emotions that flowed from my heart onto this piece of paper.

I’m not sure why I’m starting my last blog post of the year like this.

A year ago I was only alive because it would be cruel to my children to end my life the week of Christmas. They deserved to have this season be untainted by my selfishness. Then in January it is my second sons birthday, so better not ruin that either. By the end of January my Dr. and brand new therapist, I mean brand new, I’d seen her only once when she, my Dr, and my husband started having multiple phone calls back and forth in crisis mode while keeping calm to my face. They were all concerned about my dim future. Somehow they all believed in me, and it was their belief in me that made me take one step after the other because my belief in myself was gone. I had believed the demons that haunted me and ‘knew’ my children didn’t need me. I’d make their childhood worse. It was four  no make that three days after meeting my therapist that my husband walked me into the mental hospital. Many conversations later I learned if I told him how scared I was to go in he would not have walked me in. I know it played out as God intended it to, I had this experience not only for myself but to reach those mothers who feel they cannot be reached, are too far gone. I pray my story is a story of hope and that if that’s you and you are reading this that you reach out to me. I will always make time for you.

So I survived. I spent this last year in therapy, sometimes twice a week. Seeing a psychiatrist once a month, then to every 6 wks, then 8 and this last time 3 months. It took 7 months to get the right medication combination. It took a butt load of crying, a full journal of writing, lots of coffee, a lot of sunburns this summer with my hands in the soil,  warm on top but when dug deep enough to transplant those plants the soil was dark and cold. It took EMDR, a lot of it. Good friends who let me talk to them to give my husbands ears a rest. Making date nights a priority to regain my marriage and get out of the babysitting relationship we had to keep me safe. It took grit, determination, and a lot of swearing at God. Yes, swearing. He’s a big boy. It also was balanced with praise for every miracle along the way.

Reflecting on the year as a whole I’ll admit gives me a bit of the pit in my stomach feeling. When I talk about each section on its own I am fine, I can talk to you in detail of my hospital stay, I may cry depending on where you are at in your journey because my heart breaks with you. I can talk to you about my EMDR and feel joy because it saved both myself and my husband from weeks of PTSD attacks. Nights full of them. We were both at our wits end. I can talk to you about my relationship with my psychiatrist, tell you what is really important to mention on your first visit. How to advocate for yourself because YOU know YOU. I can talk to you about the dark days in between and how after being gifted a few good days the cycle of dark days that followed hurt even more than before.

I can share all of this with you but when I see it all, like an old fashion movie being projected onto the screen, my stomach hurts and my heart races. Why? I’m none the wiser. Maybe because I, even after starting to recover, never thought I’d be here.

This holiday season I’ve been a bit quiet on here. I’ve been soaking in the miracle of my life. Feeling so much gratitude, feeling the joy on my children faces, and somehow even being grateful for having to deal with SO MUCH FIGHTING. Four boys under 7 seems to start a lot of wrestling fights that don’t end well…

I want to end the blog this year on this note. There is hope for the future! As we go into the new year let’s focus on that. Not the weight loss goals that you hope will make you happy, not buying things to fill that void, not – fill in the blank- that you want to make you happy. Let’s find true happiness in healing. The healing must start with hope for the future. Without that why try?

Happy Holidays and a very happy New Year. God Bless each one of you!

Love, Brooke

 

 

Hi, I’m a Sugarholic

I know it seems almost cliche to bring up sugar during the holiday season, which we’ve managed to land ourself squarely in now. Hang in there with me though, I think it will be worth it.

I’ve not eaten sugar for 7 months now. Yep, 7. Not because I’m on some diet craze, or anything fancy like that. Solely because I’m a sugarholic. There, I said it.

Now I know what you’re thinking, or can guess it, because this is how my conversations usually go.

Me: “I’m a sugarholic.”

Them: “Oh, me too! I love candy and all things chocolate!”

Me: “No, really, a REAL sugarholic. I didn’t know there was such a thing till I found myself here. So I don’t eat sugar. Well, refined sugar. I do however enjoy my natural sugars and you better believe I’ve figured out to still enjoy my coffee.”

From there the conversation typically goes like:

“I’m sure for now you can’t but later you will be able to handle sugar again.”

I’d like to say yes to that but I know that I have to say no. Just say no.
Now let me start from the beginning. We all have addictions, coping mechanisms we use to get through life. Some are rather healthy, and some are not. I had a variety of coping mechanisms through my postpartum period. One was Netflix. I watched it on my phone nursing because I needed to be anywhere but there. I’d stick the boys in front of one T.V. and I would sit in front of another. In the beginning I mostly used that and chocolate to cope. They were key to my survival.

As time went on and it became harder to fight the demons I began doing other things to try and cope. Thats when I found myself in Postpartum OCD. I cleaned ALL the time. I hated it and loved it. I always have liked cleaning for an outlet and mess has always caused clutter in my mind but this was more like I would  get angry if something was dirty or not tidied up. It almost felt like something I wasn’t in control of.

This phase continued but wasn’t enough. That’s when I turned to emotional eating. I’m a berry skittle lover, red fav starbursts supporter, chocolate enthusiasts, and there’s many more I’m a fan of that I could list.

Now here is where I draw the line of a candy lover or candy-holic. When you are hiding candy from your husband when you’re already eating a butt load of candy in front of him then it’s gone too far.

I’d drive to the store every single evening. Any given night at oh say 9:00pm you’d find me at Smiths on their candy aisle. I think the checkers started to notice my pattern. I’d try not to go to the same person all too often because for some reason that mattered??

Then upon arriving home I’d get settled in my bed watching probably Friends or Parks and Rec eating easily 2-3 thousand calories. Yeah.. it was that bad. What made it worse was I was eating another 400-800 calories on the way home from the store. I’d then hide the trash in the outdoor trashcan so my husband wouldn’t see it. That right there is why I call myself what I do. He didn’t even know I did this till a few months ago when we sat down and talked about my sugar recovery. On a side note it was a flat out miracle I wasn’t gaining weight.

I think at some point I knew what I was doing. Honestly, I wanted to drown my sorrows with wine but I knew how bad that would be so instead I used candy because that’s more socially acceptable I suppose.

It was a few months post hospitalization (you can read more about that through my What Brought Me Here series) when I was getting on new medication that I knew I needed to get off the sugar. I went cold turkey. After a month I thought well I’ve been good I can have a little bit of cake celebrating my sons birthday.

It was that cake that confirmed my self diagnosis. I sort of went mentally crazy from one small piece of cake. It S.C.A.R.E.D. me. I went back to feeling “crazy”. It was like my  version of a high from sugar I guess. It scared me enough though that I haven’t had sugar since.

I’ll now admit I actually went through therapy to get over the shame I felt surrounding this. I knew I needed to share this part of my journey but its been just as hard as sharing some of the really dark skeletons in my closet. I think it must be that I feel this is extra taboo.

Want to know what really sucks about being a sugar addict? It is everywhere. You don’t think about it really till you have to look at all the hidden sugar in products as well. Then in good humor I joke with my husband I should have become an alcoholic. There’s nothing I can do to change it so making a joke seems most fitting.

Now vision us all sitting in a circle in a gym or meeting place. Whatever seems most fitting to you.

“Hi, I’m Brooke and I’m a sugarholic. I’ve been clean for 7 months and I’m proud of that. Thanks for accepting me. It was hard to learn to accept myself and break through the shame I’ve struggled with.”

and that is when you say

“Hi Brooke! Welcome.”

Not the Only Survivor

It’s been a longer gap between posts than normal. It has been a bit hard to follow the last one that got so personal I suppose. I feel now I know what I should write about so I find myself here, for a fourth time starting this weeks blog.

I have struggled to bond with my youngest child. Even through pregnancy I found it difficult.  Then he was born and I had the rush of “I made him, he’s beautiful, I’m so in love.” I wish it could have lasted and been the start of a great relationship but it wasn’t.

Continue reading

The Devil on my Shoulder

** Talk of postpartum psychosis, thoughts of self harm, and thoughts of harming others**

I wonder if I’ll ever truly be able to put it into words. I suppose the answer is no. I could never put the pain, demons and isolation into words but I try. I try because putting it on paper helps it to stop spinning around in my head. I am filling my second journal in 9 months. The words just flow because I don’t know how else to let this out. 

I really don’t write for anyone else. My writing is simply for me. It’s just a bonus if others along the way can be helped by reading it. 

I fill my pages with anything that seems to get stuck swirling around my mind. Picking up a pen seems to be a key that unlocks the spinning of the thoughts. Picking up a pen can release the thoughts and emotions that haven’t been able to break free on their own.  Continue reading

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

What Makes You, Well You?

Be yourself; Everyone else is already taken.

— Oscar Wilde.

 

I’ve had this quote sitting in my drafts for 3 months knowing I wanted to use it. It is so powerful to me. Ive thought about it a lot lately. What does it mean to me? Why is it so powerful?

I’ve had a lot of unexpected life events as of late. Paths I never thought I’d have to go through. For example I never thought I’d go through postpartum psychosis. Continue reading