April 23, 2012

Mute

When I orginally 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 aniversary 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 inexpressable. Please stick with me.

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I am a singer. I am not neccesarily a good singer, but I can carry a tune. Other than playing the scales on the piano to warm up my voice I don't know how to play an instrument. I find joy in music and since I know no other way to make it, I sing. I sing loudly in the car. I sing silly songs to Evie and even my dogs and cats. I sing songs of praise and worship because growing up my mother taught me that singing is like praying twice. Everyday on the way to work while I was pregnant I listened to the Christian music station and sang, thanking God for the life in my belly, praying for her safety and eventually that she would please just come out already.

When Evie was born I stopped singing. I was in the midst of what should have been, what everyone told me would be, the most joyful time of my life. I felt no joy, no happiness, only the heavy weight of responsibility, sadness, anger, anxiety and exhaustion.

Exhaustion. That's what the nurses thought it was at first. The crying binges that lasted hours, the outbursts of anger at my husband and daughter for merely breathing in my direction, followed by remorse, guilt and promises to myself that I would never behave so abhorrently ever again. The anxiety attacks that left me trembling on the shower floor after vomiting up whatever meager food and beverage I had managed to choke down that day. It was caused by exhaustion they said.

When four nights of solid sleep didn't help finally my husband looked at me at 2 am and said, "If you don't call Dr. Martin tomorrow, I will." My friend Libba gently said, "If it was just baby blues, I think you'd be in the downhill slope by now. Call Dr. Martin, robot through it. You don't want to miss this part."

It was almost a relief to admit that there was a problem. That this wasn't normal behavior and I desperately needed help that sleep alone could not provide. The phone call to the nurse that day was the hardest I've ever made. You cannot imagine how gut wrenchingly awful it is to be asked if you've had thoughts of hurting your new born helpless child. Even though I could gratefully answer "No" to that question I think she could hear the desperation in my voice. Her name was Jennifer and she squeezed me in with Dr. Martin that afternoon.

That appointment was difficult. I am sure I looked completely strung out. I guess I was. No sleep and running on more coffee than even I care to think about. At the end Dr. Martin squeezed my hands, looked me in my eyes and said she'd been there; that it would get better. I left with a prescription for Lexapro and Xanax.

The drugs helped considerably, especially the Xanax. I remember when I hit twenty-four hours with no tears; it felt wonderful to not have eyes swollen and gritty with salt.

Still though, I didn't sing. I wouldn't sing one single note. I still had no joy to give. I was angry. No, I was beyond angry; I was livid and with it came a mute kind of grief. How dare God let this happen to me. How dare He? Everything was taken from me. Everything. No vaginal delivery and a c-section instead, NICU, no breastfeeding, and now this? He didn't deserve my praise.

My faith was broken, but not shattered. It was buried in hurt, anger, feelings of betrayal and grief but not irretrievably so.

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Part Two Tomorrow.