Right now in the US, we are in the middle of Mental Illness Awareness Week, which spans from October 1 through October 7. For those who don’t know what this is or what it means, the Mental Illness Awareness Week is put on every year to help fight the stigma associated with mental illnesses. I know this without having to look it up because all too often, people judge and ridicule that which they don’t understand, Continue reading “Mental health awareness”
I have been thinking about people and humanity lately. About how much we listen or don’t listen to each other. About how much we focus on questions we want to ask and focus so little on the answers we receive or if the questions are even wanted at all. Continue reading “You might be hurting someone’s feelings every day (and not even realize it)”
I wrote this several months ago, long before my blog, but I decided to share it with you all now:
“Stop playing with your food!” I yell for what feels like the fiftieth time just during dinner alone. My chest is tight, my stress hormones pumping out at maximum capacity. Continue reading “Postpartum Depression is a Con Artist (among other things)”
A few months before Choo-choo’s second birthday, Diesel and I had a life-altering fight. I had been having daily panic attacks, sometimes several in one day. I was in such a state that I couldn’t explain to him how I felt or what I needed him to stop doing.
You see, he was cleaning the kitchen. A fairly innocuous thing to do, except my OCD and anxiety despised germs and had decided only I knew how to get rid of them properly. I cried, and he wouldn’t stop. I stuttered through the panic, begging him to halt his actions. He wouldn’t.
Diesel believed I needed to be pushed outside my comfort zone in order to help me. Boy, was he wrong! This fight made me say something I didn’t mean and instantly regretted, but it had just flowed out of my mouth so quickly and easily in the moment.
We were on the verge of shattering our marriage, this much I knew. It was difficult for either of us to separate what was real with what was imagined. Emotions raged in us both. We had expressed things that shook us to the core. The only option I saw in that moment was the most painful one I could think of. Something needed to be done.
With time to process, however, a new solution appeared. Therapy. To be honest, I was utterly terrified. My anxiety produced hundreds of irrational fears about everything, including counseling. I had zero idea what to expect. I’m not good speaking to strangers, and the thought of divulging every ugly part of me was frightening. I was afraid I would be judged, afraid I would be thought of as a terrible mother, afraid I would never find the happy me.
I went anyway, though. Slowly, with the help I so desperately needed, I dug my way out of the darkness. I began to see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. I started medication too, something I considered a necessary evil at the time but now something I embrace as simply necessary.
While I still have dark days, they are just that: days. Not weeks or months in a row. The anger is still there, as is the anxiety. I am better able to manage and control them now.
And, most importantly, I can finally enjoy time with Choo-choo and Diesel without wanting to run away. Sure, that thought pops up every once in a great while. The “oh wouldn’t it be nice to run off to Tahiti and never come back?” But the difference is, I don’t actually mean it now. I will never just take off and disappear. The same can’t be said of the me two years ago.
My marriage to Diesel is on track again, too. It’s still a little bumpy sometimes. It is even occasionally bumpy and hilly and mountain-y, but we are better equipped with finding our way to honesty, respect, understanding, and love.
I have learned that my past doesn’t have to control me and that what I experienced does not mean I am incapable of being a good wife or mom. Though I am still learning how to deal with life’s ups and downs, I am in a much better place than two years ago.
I now understand that I am never truly alone. Not in an emotional and certainly never in a spiritual way. My loved ones are my loved ones again, not people who don’t understand me and don’t want to help me, as my depressive thoughts made me believe.
As after the rain there is a rainbow, after my darkest days of depression, I know true happiness once again. As paraphrased from the “Sex and the City” movie, I’m not happy all day every day, but I am happy every day. I now see that I do have a purpose in life and that I do matter. I wish this and pray for this for not only other survivors of sexual violence, and violence in general, but for everyone.
After Vader and the hell he put me through, in some ways I became really guarded. In others, however, I became reckless. I dated again but never loved. The moment a boyfriend said “I love you,” sheer panic filled me and I felt a very real urge to run.
I didn’t, though. I wish I had. I said those words back without meaning them too many times. I stayed in bad or untrustworthy relationships out of fear of so many things. I was so desperate to be with a guy who TRULY loved me and would never hurt me that I sacrificed my happiness in my search for him. I ignored the good guys who showed an interest, sometimes out of those same fears and sometimes out of loyalty to whichever non-Prince Charming I was dating at the moment.
I had known Diesel for years before he finally asked me out. By this point, I’d been single for a while. I had suffered through (what I didn’t have a name for at the time) post-traumatic stress disorder panic attacks, usually brought on by any kind of intimacy with guys. Even being alone with a guy, any guy, filled me with terror, most especially at night. I had finally started trusting males again as opposed to the hyper-vigilant state I’d been in after Vader waiting or looking for any number of bad things to happen. I even read a book you might have heard of: “He’s Just Not That Into You.” I really loved the book and the message it taught that we are all worth being with someone who not only cares about us but respects us. (Not a paid endorsement, but I do highly recommend it!)
In the beginning, I was scared of being in a relationship with Diesel. He was so patient, though. He talked me through panic attacks. He held me when I cried. He told me he’d never hurt me and kept his word. He loved me and meant it. He was everything I needed and wanted him to be.
Fast Forward in time, around our second wedding anniversary. We’d been together over eight years by this point. After years of just us two, we decided to have a baby. We wanted to share our love with a child of our own.
Apart from the nausea, pregnancy was great at first. Then came a lot of soreness. A LOT. I gained almost 60 pounds. Every movement made me hurt. I was up there in the ranks of major hormonal snarky pregnant women.
Then, towards the end of my pregnancy, around the eighth month or so, something changed in me. Closeness with Diesel caused panic attacks and crying. Crying I had to hide from him because I didn’t want to upset him. I was miserable from more than just the pregnancy.
When I finally went into labor, I experienced I believe at least an hour of pushing with no epidural before they decided they needed to remove Choo-choo surgically. I had never felt so much physical pain in my life. I was immensely happy when they finally injected me with the spinal anesthesia. Choo-choo was finally out, and we were a family.
Then came the moments in the hospital I wish I could forget. Choo-choo wasn’t eating or sleeping. He wouldn’t stop crying. I wasn’t sleeping. I couldn’t hardly move. Diesel had some pretty rough moments I promised not to mention, but let me just say we were all falling apart.
In the weeks that followed, I struggled nursing him and had to bottle feed him. He still cluster fed and cried if he wasn’t eating. I cried daily, usually on the side of the tub or even on the bathroom floor. I still wasn’t sleeping. Choo-choo only slept if held. I felt so completely alone. It was a new version of hell.
I again started thinking those thoughts that the world, and specifically Diesel and Choo-choo, would be better off without me. “Oh, God, please make this end!” I would cry. I didn’t want to kill myself, but I wasn’t opposed to God doing it for me.
Everyone kept telling me what I was going through was normal. “You’re a first-time mom,” they’d say. “It’s always hard with the first one.” No one suggested depression. Not my loved ones. Not my doctors. I was so angry and so empty with no answers, only questions of “What is wrong with you?” and “Why are you acting like that?”
Diesel and I fought more times than I can count during this time. For the next two years, really. Our marriage was falling apart. I was falling apart. I didn’t have anyone to really help me through theses feelings. It felt like I’d fallen down a hole and had only a short amount of time until I’d suffocate. No one was going to find me. No one was going to pull me out. I was on my own.