I’m Still Here

I’m Still Here

I have started and deleted probably ten blogs in the past few weeks. I haven’t been able to focus. Postpartum depression is really no joke. I can’t sleep (hence blogging at 2AM), I am either eating all day long or not eating until five in the evening, and I am either being perfectly patient with my kids or going off my rocker with them…there seems to be no in between for my brain right now. I’m either happy or so furious I can barely speak, or will be suddenly overcome with tears over something relatively inconsequential. Mixing my PPD with my PTSD and sleep deprivation is…interesting, to say the least.

In short, I’m a hot mess.

I’m blogging about this because more people need to be honest about the struggles with any and all types of mental illness. And postpartum depression, while temporary, is a type of mental illness. The stigma surrounding it needs to end, so that people will seek help sooner.

I thought I had it handled a few months back…I couldn’t have been more wrong.

These last few weeks in particular, I have felt like I was drowning in sadness. I walked around with this sadness that I could literally feel in my chest, like a twenty pound weight. Like someone had put a stone inside my rib cage to weigh me down. I could paste on a smile when I left the house, and try to play with my kids, and might even manage a genuine laugh here and there…but it was just these tiny flares of light in this deep, dark, black hole I had been sucked into. I haven’t felt this kind of depression since I was about 15 years old, and it was not a feeling that I had missed.

I knew that, having suffered from depression before, I was more prone to getting PPD. And I got it with my older daughter, but it passed fairly quickly and I didn’t really seek help. I just got over it. So this time, I thought I could just get over it, too. Take a few supplements, keep myself busy, it would pass.

Wrong. So wrong.

Have you ever felt like a passenger in your own body? Like, you’re watching yourself slip further and further down into this depressive state, and the sane and rational part of you is going “HEY! You’re falling! Get help!” But the part of you that’s falling is going “I’ve totally got this.”

And then one day soon, the sane and rational part of you is watching the insane part of you yell at your three year old over something stupid or have a panic attack driving down the freeway or sobbing on the floor of the shower while the water runs cold because you’ve been in there so long. The insane part of you picks fights with people and says mean things to friends and pretty soon, the insane part is sitting in the living room in her pajamas at four in the afternoon with all the curtains closed, letting the kids watch Daniel Tiger for the entire day, surviving off of your daughter’s goldfish crackers because, while you always make food for the kids, it seems like too much effort to make any for yourself.

And meanwhile, the sane part of you is screaming “I freaking told you to go get help! Now we are stuck down here in this hole and you are too depressed to get help for being depressed.”

I saw a meme the other day on Facebook that described depression perfectly. It said something like “What’s depression like? Depression is like drowning…only you can see everyone around you breathing.” You feel invisible. No one can see how much you’re struggling. If you had cancer or pneumonia or a broken arm, people would know you were sick, and they would want to help. But everyone believes the lie you have pasted on your face, and no one knows you can’t breathe. You share the happy moments on Facebook, the good pictures. It’s an instant life filter.

And then you hit rock bottom. You tell your friend you want to run away or die, and you don’t care which.

And you didn’t even realize you were feeling that way until the words come out of your mouth, and then you burst into tears, because you’re a mom, and you’re not supposed to think things like that, and it makes you feel like a terrible person and an awful mother, and you just feel…defeated. So defeated.

But somehow, putting it into words, realizing where you are at, lets the sane part of you reach the insane part. You pick up the phone, and you call to schedule an appointment with your doctor. You start talking to everyone.

You know that some people are going to think you’re doing it for attention, and in a way, they’re right, but not for the reasons they think. You’re doing it for attention, because you don’t want to disappear without anyone noticing. You don’t want to do anything you’ll regret later. You don’t want them to go, six months from now, “Whatever happened to…” You don’t want to be invisible anymore.

And, funny thing.

The good friends don’t judge you.

The good friends suddenly blow up your phone with text messages like “I had no idea you were struggling so much. What can I do?” Or “I want to get you out of the house, so lets take the kids out tomorrow.” Or “Lets have coffee next week.” One person sent me a text that said “I love you. I’m here for you. Don’t ever get so lost in your mind that you forget how many people feel the same way I do. You’re a good friend to so many people…let them be good friends to you, too.”

My favorite was this message from my best friend that lives out of state.

“Like a shattered mirror
You’re beautiful,
Refracting the world around you in a dozen different ways.
You are perfectly imperfect, a chaotic storm of deepest reds and blues.
Your heart is huge, your emotions deeper than the oceans.
I don’t even have the words for you.
You’re more than I can describe.
You’re amazing.
Beautiful.
A Disney freak to the highest degree, and loyal to a fault.
You carry the world on your shoulders, and pick yourself up when you shatter.
Stronger than you know, just remember, that I see you.
I know you.
And you are wonderful.”

I love the line, “You…pick yourself up when you shatter.”

I have talked to more people and been invited to more places in the last week than I have been in probably the last year put together. And I’m not blaming the people doing the inviting. It’s hard to get a depressed friend to want to do things with you, and even when you manage to make plans with them, there will be a lot of last minute cancellations. I’ve canceled a lot of plans in the last 9 months especially. I’m just mentioning it because it surprised me how many people cared enough to issue an invitation.

Just…if you have a friend with depression (whether PPD or otherwise), please don’t give up. Keep making plans. If they don’t want to go out, go to their house to watch bad movies and eat popcorn. Keep trying. Because the fact that you care enough about them to love them even when they aren’t necessarily a bundle of laughs means the absolute world to them. I promise.

My appointment is on Tuesday.

I am very nervous about it.

But I keep reminding myself, it’s a step toward feeling better. I want to feel like myself again.

I’ve been writing in my journal again every day. There have been three days this week where all I could bring myself to write were three words…but they’re pretty important.

“I’m still here.”

 

I’m ready to win the Lottery…

I’m ready to win the Lottery…

You know that old saying, when one door closes, another opens?

I’m ready to start seeing those doors open.

I’ve seen door after door after door slam shut in my face for the last couple of years, and today a door slammed that all but broke my nose.

My husband got laid off from his job. We were just starting to get our feet back under us. We were getting caught up. We were feeling like we could see the light at the end of the long, dark, treacherous tunnel. And now this. Pitch black again in an instant. A baby on the way, rent going up in a couple months, and no job for David.

I’m really starting to wonder what I did to piss off the universe.

Where are OUR open doors? Where are OUR opportunities? Where are OUR lucky breaks? Why does life continually kick me in the face when I start to feel optimistic?

So, here’s how I feel life has gone…

We had a baby. We were on top of the world! I was able to take 7 and a half months off of work to just be her mama.

I went back to work. It broke my heart.

We lost the only apartment that has ever felt like home. I still get weepy when I talk about moving out of the home we brought Briana home to.

David had a breakdown for then unknown reasons. He was unable to work.

We lost the apartment we had moved into after we lost our Dream Apartment. We also lost our independence, and had to depend on my in-laws for a place to live.

David got diagnosed. He was devastated. I was relieved to at least know what was happening. His diagnosis caused him to withdraw even further from being able to work with any regularity.

We thought everything was getting better. We felt safe enough to move out. We got our current place.

David had another set of mini-breakdowns, and we’ve had to rely heavily on our families to stay afloat. I have hated every second of being dependent on others to survive. I have hated picking up the phone to ask for yet another loan. I have cried myself to sleep thinking about how I don’t know when we will be able to pay our families back.

We lost Riley. I had my own mini-breakdown. I didn’t stop working while I had it, but my performance at work suffered and my hours were cut. I yelled a lot at David and Briana. I felt like my life was spiraling out of control, and the loss of Riley was definitely the last straw. I felt like it was our turn to catch a break.

We found out we are expecting again. It gave David the boost he needed to get back on track at work. We started getting caught up on bills. Life was improving.

And now…this. David got laid off. Our lives are again two steps away from being a hurricane of uncertainty.

Living like this is so hard. I come from a background of financial instability. My senior year of high school, we lived three months with no electricity, and just before I graduated we were evicted.

So David losing his job is scary, for so many more reasons than having a baby on the way and being financially unstable. It brings back that fear from when I was a kid. It makes me scared for Briana. It makes me think of the summer I lived in a Motel 6 and didn’t know when we would ever have another place. It makes me remember being hungry. It makes me remember taking cold showers and dragging my laundry to friends houses.

It makes me angry.

But mostly, it just makes me feel like I’m 17 and feeling so helpless and not knowing what to do. It makes me wonder if I’m setting my own kids up to fail by not providing for them. It makes me feel stupid for not knowing what I want to do for a career and stupid for not being in school, and angry that I can’t afford school.

In essence, I feel, pardon my language, pretty fucking useless.

David gets a few weeks of pay as a severance package, and there’s unemployment. He will find another job. I might look at getting a second job. Maybe something from home. I feel so lost.

Putting on a “We will be fine” upbeat attitude for David is great, and knowing he doesn’t read my blog or log onto Facebook means I can vent without wariness. But…dammit. I am so sick of life. So very sick of it.

The Joy and Pain

The Joy and Pain

I am ecstatic to be pregnant again. Having another child on the way has made me feel more centered and focused, more at peace, than I have since we lost Riley to miscarriage. But there’s also this measure of guilt.

I’ll say something like “the last time I was pregnant” in conversation, and then mentally wince because I’m referring to my pregnancy with Briana, not the pregnancy with Riley. And when I announced my pregnancy on Facebook and when I talk to people about it, we always talk about “Baby Number Two.” But in my heart I’m weeping, because for me, it’s baby number three. I just never got to give birth to one of my children.

But how do you deal with that in casual conversation with acquaintances and people on Facebook who don’t really understand? If I had put “Baby Number 3 is expected to arrive in May of 2015” I would have gotten very confused responses, even from family members and lose friends.

It feels like a betrayal to Riley. It feels like I am cutting Riley out now that we have another baby on the way. I started sobbing the other night, clutching the necklace my aunt gave me for Riley and just promising over and over I wasn’t forgetting. I never would. That some day I would tell Briana and our as-yet-unnamed baby about the sibling they never got to meet, and that Riley would forever be in my heart. But that I didn’t know how to make it easy to understand for people, so I just say “second baby” and cry inside. I hoped Riley understood.

I believe in an afterlife, where families are reunited and together forever. And some day, I will hold the baby I never got to hold on Earth, and I will hug and kiss Riley and give a lifetime of love in an instant. And everything will be okay again.

In the meantime, I am doing my best to enjoy this pregnancy. Being pregnant after miscarriage is terrifying and exhilarating and heart wrenching and amazing and awesome and lovely and sad all at the same time. I am trying to focus on the positives for the most part.

The nausea is starting to pass. I’ve gained back three of the nine pounds I lost. I’ve made it to the second trimester. I have felt the baby move (I felt it early with Briana, too) and feel the baby move a little more every day. In about five or six weeks we get to have another ultrasound and find out baby’s gender.

And I am reminding myself evey time I start to feel guilty, enjoying this pregnancy is not a betrayal to Riley. It’s a celebration of new life and new beginnings. It’s living in the moment. It’s a GOOD thing. I am thinking that, wherever my Angel baby is right now, Riley understands.