April 26, 2012

Aftermath/ Somebody That I Used to Know

When I originally wrote here about being diagnosed with and surviving post-partum depression and anxiety I chose not to share my story. Since that day I have shared bits and pieces of what my life was like during that time. It's hard for me to write about it; it's hard for me to share because that time of my life was the darkest it's ever been. It was awful and even being recovered and off meds it's hard to relate that experience to others because I can still barely relate to what happened in those months myself. However as I approach the one year anniversary of my diagnosis, it is time I share these stories because they are not anything to be ashamed of; they are a part of who we are and who we are is beautiful.

This is a result of over fifteen posts that I started, stopped, edited to pieces and eventually abandoned. I've managed to make what I think is a fairly accurate account of those months and broken it down. It's a difficult story to tell not just because PPD/A is a stealer of happiness but because it's many faceted, convoluted and confusing. Most of these posts will relate to music. Music has always been where I have found solace and a way to express joy that seems inexpressible Please stick with me

Part One: {HERE}
Part Two: {HERE}
Part Three: {HERE}
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When I eventually recovered and weaned (carefully, oh so carefully) off the meds I had to deal with the emotional aftermath and questions.

There is something about looking back at the people who help you pull through these struggles that makes you realize how loved you are and how much compassion and hope this world still has left in it. From my mother gently reminding me to take a Xanax when I would start rocking, to my father telling me that it would be ok, that I'd be fixed up in no time, that he knew another guy whose daughter when through this, to my mother-in-law embracing me and telling me her best friend's daughter said to tell me three months of Prozac worked wonders, to my father-in-law who isn't a man of many words but would hug me and kiss my hair, to my amazing husband who would hold me in the middle of the night, listen to my fears, stroke my hair while I cried and pick up when I would abruptly drop I am always amazed by how deep family runs. I would not be the mother I am without their love, patience, understanding and willingness to put in a few sleepless nights so I could get a little myself. I could not be prouder, or more grateful, to be part of this family.

As the months have gone by I've come to learn that there are certain things that you have to deal with when you are open about your struggle with a mental illness. Questions, comments and assumptions. These are some of the most common.

Did you want to hurt your baby?
No. I struggled more with the bonding and disconnectedness. I have a deep deep sense of responsibility and the fear of disappointing or letting down others would have kept me from ever physically harming Evie. From the second she was born, I would've taken a bullet for her, but it took awhile before love and not responsibility was the reason. However thoughts of leaving her with other family members were very common during that time.

Will you have another child knowing that your chances of PPD/A are higher having had it before?
I don't know. I don't know if I am brave enough to face that possibility again. Right now I don't know if I even want another baby, ever. It will factor into our decision whether or not to pursue a biological sibling for Evie.

General statements that all mothers with PPD/A are "bad" "crazy" or want to do some atrocious thing to their child.
I used to stay quiet when people would make statements like these. I would bite my tongue and die a little on the inside, because just about 100% of them had no clue that I had PPD/A. Then I realized by staying quiet that I was only contributing to the stigma and mystery surrounding PPD/A. I began to speak up. "I had PPD you know. It's not bad or wrong. It's clinical depression and it can't be helped." It made me nervous at first, but now I don't care. Maybe it'll remind someone to be compassionate when discussing it with a new mother who is hiding her PPD/A, because when you are that deep in the thick of it, a careless comment is enough to push you over the edge.

So are you back to your old self now?
No. No I am not. I will never be the same as the person I was before. In that time period I also learned to be a mother. That changes you in untold ways. I am neither the pre PPD/A Sarah or the broken girl who struggled for months. I know those women only now in the past. I am stronger and more resilient than them both. I love my child more than either one of those women did. Being a PPD/A survivor does not define who I am, but it did change who I am forever.

You can get addicted to a certain kind of sadness
Like resignation to the end, always the end
So when we found that we could not make sense
Well you said that we would still be friends
But I'll admit that I was glad it was over...
Now you're just somebody that I used to know.

*Lyrics Courtesy of Goyte*

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Fifth and Final Entry Tomorrow.