Wondering where I went? Looking for Part 2 of my Antenatal Depression story?
I’ve moved over to Wordpress - You can find me at learnedhappiness.wordpress.com. Same ol’ me, new and improved. Or for now, at least new. It’s still a work in progress…I have yet to move over my banner and some of the links in old posts still come back here to Tumblr. But so far I’m loving it. Won’t you please join me?
p.s. Don’t forget to update your subscription and reader. =)
***You can find Antenatal Depression, Part 2 - Where Do I Go From Here? over at the new Learned Happiness site on Wordpress.***
It’s been 10 weeks and 5 days since my last post. 75 days since I carved time out just for myself…to think, reflect, and write. I’ve been away so long, the tumblr dashboard interface has changed and I have no idea what the new little icons mean. I’d be disappointed with myself except that I needed the break, and though there are many things I don’t do well, self-acceptance has become an area of strength for me (thanks to years of therapy).
So what the hell happened? Um, well…remember when I went to Vegas with my husband and had the time of my life? Turns out we brought back a little more than memories. Yup. Pregnant. With a Vegas baby.
My first reaction to the two little pink lines? Giggles. Joy. And more giggles.
I think hubby’s first reaction was to enjoy the humor of the situation. Love him for that.
We had JUST discussed how we weren’t quite ready for another baby. We didn’t feel unready (is that even a word?)…we were just so happy with the routine we had settled into. DoodleBug had gotten to this great independent stage, my music studio was taking off, he got into Harvard’s doctoral program. We wanted to have everything be predictable for a while.
Then BAM! Actions have consequences, apparently. Little tiny consequences that cry and poop…and cry some more.
But still we looked at the pink lines together and giggled. We smiled at the idea of having a child created from a fun-filled weekend of love and a happy marriage. Although nervous and justifiably freaked out, we were excited. There’s a Jack Johnson song that says, “You gotta be careful when you’ve got good lovin’, ‘cause those angels will just keep on multiplying.” That’s exactly how I felt. Until week 7.
Mother’s Day came and the weather was gorgeous. Hubby treated me like a queen and we had a glorious weekend, filled with playing outside and snuggling on the couch with movies. And I felt numb. “Uh-oh,” I thought. But I didn’t want to overreact. Anyone who has ever suffered from a mood disorder knows that you are always waiting for that other shoe to drop - for relapse to take you down again. Every little mood swing can be terrifying. So I waited…to see if it was just a bad day…if it was just the hormones.
Then the tears started, and they didn’t stop. Along with the morning sickness, the lethargy, and the headaches, I found myself profoundly overwhelmed and hopeless. I told my husband I just wanted everything back the way it was…that I didn’t want to be pregnant anymore. These thoughts horrified me, because I still wanted the baby…but not at the cost of my sanity, my family, or my happiness. The anxiety crept back into my inner monologue, frightening me with images of DB being left as an only child because of a childbirth complication, or Hubby leaving me because he couldn’t deal with another round of PPD. I had secretly hoped that although I had to stop the mood stabilizer, that the pregnancy hormones would help keep me stable and I was frustrated that the mood swings and depression came back. When I started to feel responsible for them…when I started to hear myself thinking “if you were only a stronger person, this wouldn’t be happening,” I knew I needed to call my doctor.
She recommended an SSRI. One that I had been on previously, after DB was born, which had pretty good results. But oh, the side effects. Headache (head-pounding), nausea (you know…in addition to morning sickness), insomnia (mama’s mean when she hasn’t slept), decreased libido (I know, I know. Who wants to have sex in their first trimester anyway? But still.), and lethargy (otherwise known as zombie-brain). These would be my reality for some, if not all of my time on the meds, and I wouldn’t know which of these lovely door prizes would be mine until I bit the bullet and gave the meds a try. After agreeing to fill the prescription and talk to my husband, I drove home in a bit of a daze. I didn’t want to need the meds. I didn’t want to deal with the side effects. And if I did need them, I wanted to wait until the second trimester. Fear and anxiety were spinning though my brain. My soul started to ache…a familiar feeling I never wanted to know again.
Mostly, I think I was just panicking at the thought of going through hell again. PPD is an ugly beast. Recovering from it is a fight - and it’s a long one, requiring patience, inner-strength, and flexibility. I didn’t know if I had it in me again.
I sat on the floor in my living room and sobbed.
***Please join me for Antenatal Depression, Part 2 - Where Do I Go From Here? next week. I promise you hope, fist pumping, and ultrasound pictures. But mostly, hope.***
Really, I will. When I’m not sneezing all over my also-sick two year old. When I’m not overwhelmed with lesson reschedules and meals I don’t have time to cook. After weeks of doctors appointments are all done.
In the meanwhile, enjoy this little blast from the past…
I’m honored to be participating in the Postpartum Progress Mother’s Day Rally for Moms’ Mental Health. The fact that I’m even in a place where I can participate is amazing to me - because 2 years ago, I thought I’d never be myself again…never be happy again. And yet here I am, being challenged daily by my willful toddler, still working through my anxiety, but happy. Joyful. Grateful. Myself.
If you haven’t already, please click on over to the rally. There will be a new letter every hour, with messages of hope for moms everywhere. I know for many of the writers, sharing their story hasn’t been easy, and your support (and comments!) will mean the world.
If you’re visiting from Postpartum Progress, welcome. I’m so glad you’re here. I just starting writing a few months ago to shake the last bit of shame out of my mind, to share what it’s like to live with an anxiety disorder; to show that you can survive PPD, get saddled with a life-long mental health diagnosis, and still thrive as a parent…and a person. It’s a work in progress, but putting my truth out there for (potentially) everyone to read has so far been a great experience and I look forward to seeing where blogging takes me.
More About the Rally
Why I Write About Mental Health
On Explaining Anxiety to Friends and Family
Living with Mood Swings
How Therapy Changed My Life
Fear of Passing Anxiety on to My Daughter
Learned Helplessness…and Learned Happiness
I wish you a Happy Mother’s Day. One filled with love and joy.
My first Mother’s Day, two years ago. When I look at this photo, I see someone starting to get herself back, but still not relaxed….not truly happy. It’s bittersweet.
Mother’s Day, one year ago. What a difference a year can make. Can’t wait to take a photo tomorrow.
I’ve been asked to participate in something life-changing. Over a year ago, when I was still digging myself out of the hole PPD left in my life, I stumbled across Katherine Stone’s blog, Postpartum Progress. Katherine started Postpartum Progress after surviving Postpartum OCD with her first child. It is now the most widely-read blog on postpartum mood and anxiety disorders, and Katherine’s full-time job. While the blog’s endless resources are amazing, it’s Katherine who is really changing lives. She’s managed to create a safe place for women touched by postpartum mental health issues to connect - a community of understanding and support. Women who are currently battling for their mental health turn there for help. Survivors turn there for a sense of belonging. And new moms read it to gain perspective on what life as a mother can be…and what it doesn’t have to be. Her website was instrumental in helping me really heal. She was the one who showed me how not alone I really was. She contributed to my HOPE.
For the third year in a row, she is holding a Mother’s Day Rally. Each hour on Sunday, May 8th, she will post a different letter from survivors and experts, honoring mothers everywhere and advocating for mothers’ emotional heath. I am honored to be participating and so grateful for the opportunity to reach out to other moms - to give back to the community that gave me so much.
I hope you will join me on Mother’s Day over at Postpartum Progress. Stand with me as I use my truth to combat stigma and shame. Come celebrate and honor mothers everywhere by spreading awareness and understanding of postpartum mood and anxiety disorders. It’s the best Mother’s Day gift I can think of.
I don’t think anyone else appreciates the return of the sun like our cat.
Today is the first day it’s been gorgeous outside. The perfect New England spring day, hard-earned during those four months of interminable snow. The perfect day for grilling that BBQ chicken. What’s that? I was supposed to cook that on Friday? Oops.
I have to come clean and admit that there is rarely a week in which all the meals from the menu are made on the correct day. But the beauty of shopping for a week’s worth of dinners is that you have all your supplies on hand and can move meals around depending on your needs. Say, for example, that your toddler
has suddenly sprouted pointy horns and her head is spinning around on her neck is teething. Or it’s been raining all week (it totally did, and it sucked). Or you have friends over for an impromptu dinner party. Being able to pull a nice casserole out of your pantry supplies is a beautiful thing.
So, I can’t tell you how the BBQ Chicken recipe turned out, ‘cause it’s only 10 in the morning. But I premade the sauce and it’s amazing. The Minestrone Soup was excellent, as promised by Krissa. I rarely finish an entire bowl of soup (I get full…or bored…I dunno) but there was not a drop left. We added some rotisserie chicken reheated from the freezer the second night. Super-yummy.
DH will be out of town for half of this week. Makes meal planning very interesting. This is why I make big portions of food and deep-freeze…for weeks like this.
Don’t forget to link up below!
This Week’s Menu
- Monday - Leftover BBQ Chicken, Veggies
- Tuesday - Black Bean Soup (from the freezer) and Quesadillas
- Wednesday -Leftover Casserole, Salad
- Thursday - Whole Wheat Pasta, Leftover Sauce, Steamed Carrots
- Friday - Frozen Pizza, Salad
- Saturday - Chipotle Lime Shrimp, Salad with Chipotle Vinaigrette. The gazpacho part of this recipe is just okay. Maybe I’m just not into gazpacho. But the shrimp are to die for - if you like spicy food. We’ll have ours with some crusty bread, and a quick salad with a dressing made from red wine vinegar, olive oil (3:1 oil-to-vinegar ratio), chipotle pepper, some salt, and garlic powder. I give it a quick ride in the small bowl of my food processor.
- Sunday - Leftovers
When I gathered all of DB’s clothes and tossed them in the hamper, I prided myself on getting chores done so early in the morning. When I added her sopping wet overnight diaper to the hamper to make carrying everything downstairs easier, I thought to myself, “Way to multitask! Better remember to take this out and throw it in the trash.” As I loaded the toddler clothes and the kitchen laundry into the washer, I felt oh-so-productive.
And now? Now that the washer AND dryer AND all her clothes are covered in that super-absorbent gel from the inside of the diaper that never went into the trash? Now I feel like an idiot.
And as all that laundry goes back into the washer for a second time, I’m wondering if I’ll have to rinse every single piece of it by hand. That shit sticks to everything.
p.s. Does this count as my HAWMC free write? =)