It’s not admitting defeat, it’s more of a war cry

I’m struggling.

Trying to find the words to describe how I have been feeling lately is very hard for me. How does one open up themselves to the internet, strangers, friends, family, and tell them that they are having a hard time with life? It’s not easy. If one knew how many times I have opened and closed the WordPress app on my phone to try and get all of this out, only to close it in defeat and frustration, they would be surprised. Maybe they would feel sympathetic, maybe they would recognize some of that struggle, maybe they would laugh at my weakness, and maybe they would be surprised.

But that’s the truth, my truth, right now. I am struggling and I can only hide it for so long.

My mind and heart sometimes race faster than I can keep up with, running away from me, leaving me breathless and overwhelmed. Simple things, small things, can send me into a panic and seem impossible to overcome. How do you stay on top of regular, normal, everyday things when everything seems like it would take the energy of a Mt Everest climb? Standing at the base of that monstrous mountain and wondering to yourself how you are ever going to get to the top, not even taking a second to logically tell yourself that there are places to rest, breaks in that climb, that you don’t have to ascend it in one day.

But the worst? Oh, the absolute worst, is when the optimism breaks through with the brilliancy of the most beautiful summer sunshine, only to have it crushed with a unexpected thunderstorm rolling in. Being brought up, when that’s all you have yearned for, only to be violently crashed down just as fast? It’s horrible, and that’s how a lot of my time lately feels; up, down, up, down.

I don’t want to paint this picture and have you think that my life is all doom and gloom, because in reality, it isn’t. There are some horrible, no good, awful, heartbreaking moments. But there are also many glorious, fun, happy, beautiful moments. It’s these that I want to bottle up and savor for when the bad are outweighing the good. When my ability to be optimistic and positive is broken.

It’s all coming down to how I am coping with everything lately, and it hasn’t been good or healthy. I know this feeling, and I know how quickly things can descend into that deep and dark place we call depression. I’ve struggled with it for as long as I can remember, and probably will always have to work to fight off that demon.

But what has been the worst for me lately, what has practically crippled me for the last few days, is the anxiety. The constant racing of my heart, the shaking of my hands, the loss of appetite, the visions of horrible things happening to me and my loved ones. It’s been horrible.

I have to clarify this, before you get the wrong idea. I do not, nor have I ever, visualized doing harmful things to myself or anyone else. Ever. What haunts me is the “what if”. Reading a story in the news about a child drowning and going into a mental panic because what if that happened to one of my children? Unable to stop the terrifying visions of that scenario from running through my head, quickly going through that terror and all the emotions that go along with it. Laying in bed, wide awake at 4am, unable to sleep because all I can think about is checking on my children one more time to make sure that Marley isn’t wrapped up in her blanket and Corbin is still breathing on his own.

Rinse. Repeat.

Add onto this already unhealthy place I find myself in, that Corbin has been a more challenging baby than I was prepared for, and it’s been hard. To no fault of his own, he’s brand new here and this world can be downright scary and overwhelming for the best of us, let alone a new baby. He’s sensitive, which has made for some very difficult days, full of crying and screaming. Days no one wants to repeat, and would most likely want to forget about. There is absolutely nothing that will send my anxiety skyrocketing faster than a fussing baby. To feel like you have no control, no ability to help your baby settle, it’s truly horrible and can break the best of us. I have been finding that as he is getting a bit older and more familiar with his surroundings, things are getting better for him and he is settling a bit. But for the most part, there is very little middle ground; He is either super happy and relaxed, smiling, coo-ing and goes with the flow, or it’s the end of the world and he basically hates everyone and everything. Nevermind the fact that he absolutely hates the car, so 90% of our travels are spent with him freaking out in the back, while I am helpless. I can not tell you how many times I have had to pull over at the side of the road, fearing that he would pass out, choke, unable to calm him down any other way. It makes me sick to my stomach thinking about it.

Today was one of those days and my nerves and spirit were broken so badly that I ended up in a parking lot, screaming baby, rain pouring outside my car and all I could do was cry. I climbed into the back seat with him, holding him, nursing him, while sobbing and praying for some peace.

It’s not easy to admit, none of this, but here it all is.

Postpartum Depression. Anxiety. Saying them out loud is scary, huh?

But if I’m not able and willing to talk about this, be honest, who will? Who will be there for the other new mom who is struggling with some of the same feelings? Who is there to help her know that she is not alone and that this isn’t the end of the world, that there is help out there for her? If no one talks about these dark days, we only intensify the feeling of loneliness and solitude that comes with it.

You are not alone.

Today sucked. It was absolutely horrible and brought me to my breaking point where I knew it was time to ask for help, and there is no shame in that. Luckily for me, it happened on the day that I already had an appointment with my family Dr, so we were able to discuss at length how I have been feeling and figure out how to help me regain some control over my mind-frame. It was hard, gosh, it was so hard. Hearing myself talk about it, saying these things outloud is scary, but also sobering in a way. I’m proud of myself for recognizing the signs, knowing that if I don’t reach out to someone sooner rather than later, that it will only get worse.

It’s OK to ask for help, but it’s not easy.

There are so many avenues to get that support you need. Pick one. Talk to a friend, call a family member, Google for local support groups, call your doctor. I guarantee you that you are not alone. No one will laugh at you, no one will find you at fault, no one will judge you. At least no one who has any kind of decency or soul. The people who love and care for you will support you.

While I settled down tonight to snuggle up and relax with Corbin while he nursed before bed, I took some deep breaths. I held his little hand, traced the curve of his tiny ear, felt the warmth of his body against mine and I felt some peace come over me. I could breathe a little bit easier, knowing that I had taken the proactive steps to help not only myself, but my family as well. I know this is not a overnight fix, this is a uphill battle that requires a lot of work. More tears will be shed, more days will suck, but I took those first few steps towards a better place and sometimes that’s the hardest part.

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Comments

  1. 2

    Saz says

    It gets better, K. A huge step in the right direction is recognizing it and having people support you. I know we haven’t been close lately, but I have been there and I am always willing to talk about it – or just listen and give e-hugs.

  2. 4

    Michelle says

    Your story is all too familiar. This pregnancy has brought on anxiety that I will deal with this again. Being a counseling student, I know what I need to do to make myself better. Easier said than done though. My passion lies in working with women struggling with pregnancy related mental and emotional conditions. Like you said, it’s not always easy to ask for help, but it’s necessary. Counseling can be very beneficial. Postpartum Support International has some great resources. Also, first and foremost, remember to take care of you. Again, easier said than done. Thank you for sharing. Your story has helped normalize my feelings and I’m sure it has done the same for others.

  3. 5

    Christy says

    Such an honest, open post – I love & respect your honesty and willingness to share your vulnerability. So many people only want to paint rosy pictures of their lives when the truth is that there are ups & downs, good days & bad days. I’m so glad you were able to summon your strength and ask for help – and sharing your story will undoubtedly help so many other women in similar situations. You’re an amazing role model for your kids and they’re lucky to have you!

  4. 7

    Sarah [NurseLovesFarmer.com] says

    I think it’s wonderful that you’ve shared this with your readers. I know a lot of bloggers who suffer from PPD/A if you’re interested you should reach out to them and/or check out their stories – http://www.itsavol.com (@ItsAVol), http://www.thesouthernmommychronicles.com (@laceyann2008), http://www.growingupgeeky.com (@growingupgeeky) – they are all wonderful mamas and friends. I do not suffer from depression or an anxiety disorder, but I do find that when I get in a panic or stressed out when my baby (now 8 months) is fussy, it only makes him worse. I hope that you can get some help to get through this stage and I’m thinking of you and all the other mamas out there with PPD/A.

  5. 9

    Denise says

    Your post made my cry… My son is 3 years old now, but I still cry when I recall that feeling of desolation, helplessness, desperation… that feeling of drowning inwardly, choking with resentment, guilt for feeling all those feelings, and anger with myself when I had post partum depression.

    Post partum depression is very debilitating… I would not wish it on my worst enemies… My heart aches and reaches out to all mothers who have had brushes with this illness…

    Hang in there, mommy… I will think of you.

  6. 10

    Jaymie says

    Hey girly,

    The truthfulness in this post was powerful. When people talk about newborns and the pretty outlook on life, they never stop and add in the part about how hard it all is. I am proud to call you my friend as you make people see that the beautiful life is the beautifully hard life, the beautifully exhausting life, the beautifully hard life…
    Love ya lady! Keep your chin up… You’re doing all the right things.
    xo

  7. 11

    Katie Jones says

    Oh girl. I was you exactly a year ago. Exactly. Everything I’m reading is so familiar! It was SO hard when Foster was born. Between breastfeeding, mastitis, josh being gone a lot, etc. Foster screamed every time we were in the car. For a while I just wouldn’t leave the house. Josh would come home from a trip and I would realize I hadn’t even walked outside in three days. It was SUCH a struggle to get him to nap. Every time I put him down he would wake up 45 mins later, screaming. I just couldn’t figure out what was wrong. I would literally spend an hour in his room in the dark trying to get him to go down, just to have Ellie walk in and loudly ask for macaroni. Then of course I would be furious at her because that woke him up and I had to start all over again. Poor Ellie didn’t know any better. Those first few months I felt like the only time I talked to her was when I was telling her to be quiet, don’t jump, don’t stomp, don’t come in fosters room. I felt like a horrible mom. On July 4th last year, Josh was out of town and our neighborhood was throwing a block party. My parents took Ellie for the night and I spent three hours standing in my closet (where fosters pack and play was) trying to get him to sleep and stop crying. It was rough. My nerves were shot and I had anxiety every moment of every day. Even though foster was asleep in my closet, with his sound machine, I would tip toe around the house, quietly closing the fridge door, because I was so terrified that he would wake up and I would have to go back to that dark place where I had a crying baby and felt like a failure. Finally we discovered he had a milk protein allergy (after he was hospitalized for literally refusing to eat). Once we got the right meds and switched to formula, everything got a little better each day. Some things that helped- we swaddled him all day and all night. It was the only way he would stay calm. We found that he would not scream as much in the car if we turned on my white noise app. Also we figured out that with the miracle blanket, you can safely swaddle in the carseat. Looking back, I would have held him or carried him in my wrap more instead of spending all my time trying to get him to sleep in his bed. I never knew he was in so much pain and it probably would have helped for me to hold him upright more. I remember thinking “why did I do this?” And thinking I had ruined my life and Ellie’s too. I was so upset that I apparently had a high needs baby. Why me? I wasn’t equipped to handle this. I already struggled with depression and anxiety. I remember putting a wallpaper on my phone that said, “I can do hard things. ” it helped me remember that I can handle this. It won’t kill me. Things slowly got better and I was able to breathe again without tightness in my chest. Now foster is 15 months old and sleeps like a champ! Seriously- kid sleeps from 6pm to 7am with a 3 hr nap every day :) He is such a Mommy’s boy and totally shows it. Ellie never remembered those early times and now they chase each other around the house and giggle. It DOES get better. You know it does. It’s just hard to see it right now. You can do this and I will be here watching and reading your story. Please email me if you need to talk. Friends don’t let friends mother alone :)

  8. 12

    DyeFreeMe says

    I’m proud of you for recognizing what was happening and having the courage to take the first steps to overcome it. Baby steps. Having support is very important and you are lucky to be able to count on your family members. Having been through this for several years due to avoidance and fear, I know all too well what it is like to have your family members turn their backs on you. Keep doing what you’re doing and be very proud of yourself.

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