Postpartum Depression – Why Isn’t this Dark Cloud Leaving?

After a couple of days in the hospital it was time to come home. I was looking forward to the familiarity of my home. I had just completed a huge renovation project on the house and it finally looked the way I had envisioned when we first bought the house.

But coming home, I still felt empty.

My mum was staying with me for the first five weeks of being home. In our culture, you either go and stay with your parents for five weeks or your mother comes and stays with you. And those first few weeks were amazing.

But then came five weeks plus a day and I was home alone with just the baby. I was scared. I didn’t feel confident taking care of this little human being. I didn’t even feel confident in taking care of myself. I was a mess and I spent the entire day in tears.

In my time of desperation, I remembered that there was a support line I could call for help, and I called. Little did I realize that they wouldn’t care about my well-being, instead their concern was “if I would harm my child”.

Enter Child Protective Services.

Keep in mind that harming my son had never even crossed my mind. I explained to the nurse on the phone that I just wanted to run away. How that translates into harming my child is beyond me. But that evening I had a visitor from child protective services.  I was scared. Are they going to take my child? What did I do wrong? My son was fed. I changed his diapers. And when my husband came home from work he would bathe him. My son was taken care of. That wasn’t the problem. The issue was my mental state. I was sad. I wasn’t confident. I felt lost. I felt very vulnerable. I felt that I could crumble at any minute.

Nevertheless, the lady from Child Protective Services was coming in the evening, and I had to prepare for the unknown. Its safe to the say the visit from Child Protective Services was a success. The lady asked to see where my son slept, and I showed her the bassinet and then the crib that was already set up in the nursery for when he got older. I showed her his toys, his clean clothes and his changing table. She didn’t understand why she was called to my house. I explained my mental state and she advised me to go see my family doctor to discuss post-partum depression.

PS – My mum also started coming to my house during the day to help me. She’s my superhero!

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PostPartum Depression – Where Did You Come From?

I never thought I would be one of those moms.

I had a plan. I was going to get pregnant, and it was going to be the flowers and butterflies’ type of experience.

Wrong…

The experience was a nightmare plagued with gestational diabetes and nausea until the very end. Between popping pills to control the vomiting, pricking myself with needles to check my blood sugars and stabbing myself with insulin needles, it was safe to say I hated the world! As the Brits would say – I was a miserable cow!

My labour would go smoothly.

Wrong again…

33 hours of vomiting and pain. Everyone said “take the Epidural – it will be great! It will disguise the pain”. They didn’t tell me that it would make me throw up! Maybe I was one of the unlucky few. Even having ice chips made me throw up. Labour was a rough experience. After it was all over, I was mentally and physically exhausted. When the nurse finally placed my son in my arms, I wanted to be as far away from him as possible. Skin to skin wasn’t even an option. My husband took over. My husband was also the first one to feed my son,  and although I had only been a mother for about 2 hours – I felt like a failure.

Make no mistake. I loved my son, but I felt as though I had lost who I was. And without even realizing it, I started feeling the pressure of the mom shamers. In my mind, I could hear them saying “You didn’t want to hold your kid? You didn’t feed your kid?”. While the normal me would respond with “No I fucking didn’t – move on with your life”, the current me – that I didn’t even recognize, wanted to crawl into a small black hole and hide.    

I was very sad and I felt alone. I felt like no one understood how I felt. I was supposed to be happy and excited about this gift I had receive, and I was. But something was missing. I felt like an empty shell.


Thank You 2016!

Two Thousand And Sixteen. The words seem so insignificant on paper, yet as I say the numbers out loud, I can feel a paper weight being dropped on my heart. How do I begin to describe the year I’ve hard? As I try to find the right words, I feel confined to the words of the Oxford dictionary. Why can’t language be like light? Infinite.

Two Thousand And Sixteen. Thank you. As I sit here trying to grasp for words that would do my year justice, I feel overwhelmed with emotions of gratitude. This year was tough. Filled with loss and great sadness, but for some reason my mind floats to the happy memories.

This past year, we lost a monarch in my husband’s family. We spent many months going back and forth between work, home and the hospital. While the loss was significant, my memories constantly float to hospital memories that make me smile. I will always remember the look on her face when I entered her hospital room on a day that I said I was busy at work and wouldn’t be able to make it. She was so happy, and for anyone that knew her, she didn’t show much emotion.

My maternal grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Fortunately, the doctors caught the cancer in time and were able to remove it. She underwent radiation treatment shortly after that. Although she gets tired easily and is often in pain, she is still as feisty as ever. You think I have a sharp tongue, wait till you meet my grandmother.

My lung condition also relapsed. This news was a bit tough for me to digest. I had worked so hard to try to prevent this from happening, but it just goes to show, you can’t control everything in your life. Sometimes you just have to accept the cards that you are dealt, even if they are terrible. I remember laying in the emergency room bed, trying not to cry, thinking “please don’t be a relapse”. My condition is rare and easy to misdiagnose. Prior to my diagnosis, I spent many months in and out of hospital with doctors telling me I was having muscle spasms. So when the doctor came to my bed and told me I was good to go home because I was having a muscle spasm I almost started laughing. Muscle Spasm? I asked to see my blood work and x-rays.

The pulmonologist, Dr. Wayneinder Anand, who originally diagnosed me with this rare disease and was one of my biggest blessings of 2015 also ended up being one of my biggest blessings of 2016. Prior to releasing me from his care, he taught me how to read my blood work and x-rays to identify if I was relapsing. So when I saw the results, I knew what was happening. Had he not taken the time to teach me how to read my reports, I would have continued to suffocate and not understood what was happening. My health care would have been in the hands of others. Dr. Wayneinder Anand gave me the knowledge to identify when I was having an issue, and the steps I needed to take to self-stabilize, until I was in the care of another pulmonologist.

When I reflect on Two Thousand and Sixteen I can’t help but smile. This year was filled with trials and errors, laughter, sadness and happiness, but it made me stronger. This year taught me how to be grateful for the life I have. It taught me to make the conscious decision to be optimistic and happy every day. Because when you change your perspective, you change your life.

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Disconnected

Recently, I’ve found it difficult to connect with people on a human level. I can’t remember the last time I had a genuinely honest conversation with someone, and i’m growing tired of the superficial conversations I have with people. You know, the ones where we instinctively start to discuss whose life is more difficult. It’s like we’re in a rat race, constantly trying to outdo the next person. When the truth is, we are all just going through the motions of life and the growing pains that come along with it.

If I am being completely honest, I have a great life. I work on my flaws and improve on my weaknesses. I work really hard on growing myself into the person I want to be. However, I feel ashamed to let the world know how happy I am. Why? Because people become jealous and envious that you seem so “put together”. They don’t see the behind the scenes hard work I’ve put into the person I am evolving into. They only find reason to be resentful.

I have a very positive outlook on my life. I focus on the positives, and understand that the problem areas can be worked on. I know that nothing in life is constant and I am okay with that. But I don’t spend each day feeling angry about the pain points in my life. I accept them and roll with the punches, and that works for me. It allows me to stay focused and evolve into the person I want to become.

However, I constantly live in a fear that if I let people know how happy I am that they will find me un-relatable. When the truth is, the only difference between us is the outlook we have on life. I don’t see the grey areas in my life as problems. I see them as opportunities to grow. My approach to the grey areas is to accept them and look for a solution, if there isn’t one, I will sit on the problem until I can find one. When I advise people on how to solve problems in their lives, they find my approach too harsh, or they will give me a list of 100 reasons why the solution won’t work. They make the choice to stay pessimistic, and I can feel myself being sucked into the vacuum that is their negativity. And my outlook on life isn’t negative, so I can’t relate. And in turn there is a disconnect between my world and me.

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Word Vomit

My dad always told me to have value in the things I say. He said I should think about my vocabulary before vocalizing my thoughts, and to understand that once I spoke, I would lose ownership of those words. They would fall prey to the interpretation of the listener.

However I suffer form a serious case of word vomit. I often speak first and think later. If I am being completely honest, sometimes I find myself annoying and feel like saying, “just shut up”, but instead I just keep rambling like the court jester. While I speak from the heart, and constantly try to help those around me, I sometimes I think I need to sit back and let people make their own decisions free from my opinions.

The problem with that is, I often find myself giving an opinion before I can catch myself. While my opinion may be honest, I am too straight forward, and it causes people to feel defensive when they don’t need to be.

I recently told someone that I thought they have a drinking problem. For the sake of this blog I will refer to this person as Emma. I wasn’t very tactful in my approach. Being the straight forward person that I am, I spoke bluntly from a place of concern, causing this person to get defensive. While I think I was wrong in how I approached the subject, I have serious concerns about this persons health, and now realize that she has people in her life that enable this behaviour. She doesn’t have many people in her corner, trying to encourage her to sort out her issue. Instead, she’s surrounded by people who encourage and promote the drinking. What Emma doesn’t realize is that if she has serious health issues in the future, due to the alcohol abuse, these people who are enabling her won’t be there to pick up the pieces. Those close to her will be.

Its very frustrating for me to sit and just watch her indulge in behaviours that aren’t helping her build a healthy life for herself. Instead, she is holding on to a lifestyle that she should have outgrown. But thats just my judgemental opinion. Perhaps I am being judgemental, or maybe I just see a better future for her than she envisions. Either way, I regret my approach to the topic, because it is a serious topic.

I wish I had better control over my words. However, they often come out before I can stop them, and while I come from a good place. I realize that my opinions aren’t always needed. In the case with Emma, maybe she needed to hear my opinion, or maybe it just pushed her further, i’m not really sure. Either way, I think I could have approached the subject matter in a more compassionate way. After all, if someone is drinking to suppress emotions, bluntly telling them they have a drinking problem isn’t going to help them.

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Quicksand

Sometimes I feel as though I am stuck in quick sand in the middle of a cross road. Afraid to move, for fear of sinking in deeper, I slowly look around me to see which road I want to travel.  I am faced with the decision of who I want to be as a person, and the type of life I want to create for myself.

To my left, I see a life focused on my career. This is a road that I am familiar with. A workaholic by nature, I love to work and reap the rewards of my hard work. However, I question whether this road is still for me. Do I want to make my work my life? Yes it will bring me all of the luxuries in life, but do I want to be defined by what I have, instead of who I am?

To my right, I see a simple life with a white picket fence. I am outside watering the grass and feel a sense of inner peace and calm. My feelings of aggression, motivation and determination have disappeared and I am simply content with being in my own skin. I don’t have a very big house, but I feel wealthy.

And then there is the road ahead of me. I can’t make out what is in front of me, it’s shielded by fog. But, for some reason I feel excited by it. Maybe it’s the feeling of not knowing what’s there that makes me want to impulsively jump out of the quick sand and sprint in its direction. However, I am reluctant to act on my impulses. If I move too quickly, I will sink into the sand, and the roads ahead of me will disappear.

So as I slowly try to maneuver myself out of the sand, I patiently recite the wise words my uncle once told me.

“Sandy, one thing you need to remember about your career is, you
can achieve anything you want to, but you need to look at the costs
associated with the decisions you make. I am very successful in my
career, but I had to sacrifice time with my children. I would come home
from work and open up my computer. I would take a break to eat dinner,
and then I would get back to work. I had to sacrifice a lot. Now that I am
older, I maybe would have done things a bit differently”.

As I look at the roads that lay ahead of me, I question my choices and realize that the roads to my left and right are extreme examples of what is important to me. Perhaps the foggy road ahead of me is the road I’m meant to take. Where I learn to balance my work and family life, and create a legacy for myself. As I reach this realization, I can feel the sand loosen around my legs and slowly disappear.

I am free to walk the path I choose.
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Hate Me Not

Sometimes I like to take some time for myself and be alone with my thoughts. On those days, I find myself silently laying on an empty patch of grass listening to the sound of water traveling south in the river close to my home. I fully engross in the feeling of oneness with nature, and enjoy the way the sun peers through the trees and falls on my face. In those moments I feel completely content with my existence in the world. I don’t feel rushed to be somewhere. I am able to simply exist.

However, a few days ago, as I lay in a zen state, my thoughts were interrupted by a group of teenagers traveling downstream in their water tubes. They were laughing and having a good time. I found their laughter refreshing and couldn’t help but smile. But my positive vibes were rudely interrupted by a group of guys, who I can only describe as Neanderthals.

See, one of the people in the tubes who was enjoying his day was gay, and that wasn’t to the liking of these Neanderthals. I could hear the boys say things like “let’s beat that fag up” as they tried to swim towards the group drifting on their tubes. Fortunately, they were too slow to catch up to them.

At this point, I was sitting upright and trying to see who these idiots were. I discovered that the guys spewing negativity were of African-American descent and this angered me even further. As decedents of people who experienced cruelty at the hands of others, simply for being whom they were, these boys should have known better. As colored people we should know not to mistreat people for being who they are. I am not African-American, but I am colored, and I remember being called vile names because I am colored. People who are close to me have been attacked for being colored. Being colored is not choice. Just like being gay isn’t a choice. The thought of attacking people for being who they are angers me to the core, and I was tempted to start a heavily heated discussion with these ignorant people when I suddenly became aware of my surroundings.

I was alone in a park, and I didn’t know how large their group was. I became frustrated with my inability to speak up and vocalize my thoughts. Instead I picked up my things, got in my car and drove home like a coward. I’m not sure what angered me more; listening to these Neanderthals spew their venom, or feeling helpless and not standing up for what I believe in. Maybe I wasted an opportunity to teach these boys to see the world through different lenses.

I will never know how the conversation would have gone, but what I know for certain is there are too many people in the world who judge without reason and hate where hatred is not needed.

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The Sore Thumb!

I am the third of four children, and am convinced that I have a serious case of middle child syndrome. I have two sisters, one older and one younger, and an older brother. Since my brother is the only boy, i’m convinced that he takes the title of only boy, leaving me with the title of ‘middle sister’, which in my mind means middle child. And true to the stereotypes of middle children, I stick out like a sore thumb.

You know the kid in the classroom that throws their hand in the air and aggressively waves it around, almost like they’re saying “look at me, look at me”? That’s was me growing up. I rebelled a lot. If my parents said turn left, you could be sure that I was turning right. To say it politely, you could say I was the child that was parented the most.  I definitely walked to the beat of my own drum, and because of it, I feel very free as an adult.

You’ll often hear me say that the middle child will be the most successful in a family. Yes I may be biased, but the facts don’t lie. Bill Gates, Martin Luther King Jr and Madonna were all middle children. People always say that middle children feel neglected, and I think we unintentionally are. It’s true that we are probably parented the most, but in our defense, that’s the only attention we get! We are very independent, and understand the value of being ourselves. I think being neglected growing up was a blessing, because now I have the confidence to be myself. Thanks mum and dad!

What’s ironic in my special case of “middle child syndrome” is that I was the only child that was healthy enough to be released with my mum when she was discharged from the hospital. I am also the only one of my siblings who has severe food allergies and Asthma. My siblings often joke that I need to take my ‘air supply’ – yes Ventalin and Flovent are my best friends. Having all of these problems only strengths my case for having “middle child syndrome”.

I’ve always stuck out like a sore thumb, whether it be on purpose or not, and this has been a blessing in my life. Being the child who always felt different, I learned to find my inner strength. I learned to be patient with myself and to accept who I am as a person. Similarly to everyone, I have flaws, but in my mind I consider my flaws a blessing. What’s the purpose of life if you don’t have things to improve on and grow? Being a ‘sore thumb’ is a gift. Being different gives you the freedom to find yourself, without fearing judgement.

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Get Out Of My Uterus

A few weeks ago, my brother-in-law and his wife had a daughter, and while I am happy for them as they enter this new chapter in their lives, it’s shone a fluorescent light on my life – that I don’t have a child. Now, I have to nod and smile as every family member I meet feels the need to tell me that I need to have a child next. All I want to do is scream “get out of my uterus”.

When did it become okay for people to tell you when to have kids, and why do they assume I want to have them? Yes I am in my 30s and have been married for almost 4 years, but I didn’t realize that people were tracking my “expiry date”.  From what I hear, I am getting old and being married for as long as I have, and childless in the Indian community is apparently a crime – or at least that’ how it sounds when people speak to me. Perhaps I am too “modern” for my own good, but I don’t think children are a fashion accessory. I am not going to have them because other people tell me to.

Having children is a lot of responsibility, and a lifelong commitment – that shouldn’t be taken lightly. I think you need to be mentally prepared for the sleepless nights, projectile vomit, inquisitive minds and exciting arts and crafts projects. Yes, I see the good and the bad.

This is not a decision to step into lightly, and since it takes a village to raise a child, I have come up with what I think is a great solution. Those who feel it is okay to volunteer my uterus as a home for a new baby for 9 months have been added to a list of potential babysitters. If/when I decide to have children, they will be dropped off on their doorsteps for a fun sleepover whenever they drive me crazy. You’re Welcome!

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