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 Pity Party

I wrote this post only 10 days ago. At the time I had no idea what the weekend ahead was going to hold. I found myself landed in a hospital bed this weekend unable to feel from the waist down or move my legs. My brain unable to register I had legs or arms below my elbow. I felt like a box. The pain in my neck and head was unbearable. With help of the physical therapist I’ve been able to regain feeling in my legs and over the last few days I’ve been able to manage to walk once again, praise the Lord! My thoughts this last week instead of a pity party has been determination, acceptance, and praise of the small victories. My exact thoughts were “I haven’t been through hell to let this take me down.”

Having said all that these words were written in the middle of the night when I was mostly still in denial about my situation. Also I share it because I don’t want anyone to read my blogs and think “Oh wow, she has such a great attitude.” or “She handles everything so well.” I’m human like anyone else and I have my fair share of pity parties, don’t worry about that one.


Over the last few months I’ve been told I’m a walking miracle, I pray God continues to to bless me with His favor. 

It’s 3 A.M. and I’m sitting here unable to sleep. Of what I can still gather of my thoughts I need to get out of my mind in hopes I can get a few more hours of sleep before the morning rush of getting kids out the door hits. 

Have you ever been on a roller coster ride? You know the ones that make you so dizzy you feel like everything around you is spinning even when you know it’s not? I spend a good amount of my day feeling like that now. With constant pain shooting down my neck and radiating from the base of my head up around the side of it till I feel it in my temples and continues till it meets in the front. It makes me feel like it’s some twisted type of crown. 

Honestly these are just two complaints. There are others that come along with my diagnosis but I won’t go into those here. I’ve found myself questioning why God spared me just months ago after a fight with postpartum psychosis to find myself squarely here trying to process that what will be my future which will probably include brain, and neck surgery. 

I find myself wishing once again that this was a nightmare I will wake up from. I  sometimes can’t believe this is my life.. not in a “oh man this is a crappy life”, I assure you I’m very blessed, but in a “what the crap! Do I really need to endure more this year? Lord, could we have just pushed this back to, um, well never?!” 

I’m sure everyone has gone through those things in their life I’m just having a pity party here at 3:15 am now that I’m in too much pain to sleep and the morning will come either way. Unfortunately being a mother doesn’t have a clock out card or an off switch. Of course unless you have brain surgery… is that some twisted joke? 

I write in hopes that maybe when the words fall out of my head, which has been a task as of late due to this condition, that maybe the physical pain I’m in will somehow be manageable enough to sleep through. If not I’ll be making my way out of bed once again and looking like a grannie trying to find her footing before standing, then slowly doing so as her body protests just a bit about how she wishes she could move faster, I’ll make my way carefully down the stairs to heat up this rice bag once again because it’s my only hope of getting enough relief to fall asleep. 

To be honest here.. I’m scared. I guess who wouldn’t be with trusting another human being with your head cut open. The fear of the surgery and then the long recovery with so many restrictions for so long for a mother of four to have. It’s overwhelming to say the lease. Though as I write this all I can think is at least they have a mother here to be present. A mom to give them a hug and ask them their favorite thing and least favorite thing about their school day. A mom that can still tell them in person she loves them and let them sit so carefully by her side as she navigates healing. 

You see my boys so easily could have gone the rest of their lives without that. Without so many moments together. No matter the journey ahead I’m grateful there’s still a journey to be had. 

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

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.

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