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.


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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Perplexed

As I sit here, starring at my fingers calmly placed over the keys of my keyboard, I am overcome with a sense of calmness. Perhaps it is the familiarity of the keys under my touch, bringing peace to the convoluted thoughts spinning around my mind, I’m not too sure. But I continue to sit here patiently, willing my fingers to decipher my thoughts.

InternetofThingsI’m not sure how I feel. As I look around the world around me, I see that everything is in its correct place. My clothes are tucked neatly in my closet at home, my car is parked in its regular parking spot at work, and everything is as it should be. Yet, while I know that everything is the same as it always has been, everything has changed.

My outlook on life has changed. The person I am is different from who she was just a couple of weeks ago.

I  have always been a person who loves clothes, and any method of self-expression for that matter, but recently I can’t help but think “what’s the point?”. What is the purpose of establishing your individuality?

Recently, we experienced the loss of a family member. She passed away quite young and as I walked around her home, I couldn’t help by notice many of her possessions neatly organized in their assigned homes. A thought flashed across my mind,

“once upon a time, she had gone to a store, and picked out
each item because it spoke to her in some way”.

Days after her passing, the items remain, and she is no more. It’s true that she exists in our memories and left behind a legacy of learned lessons, but we can’t touch her. Instead we are left with items that she purchased to express who she was as a person, and that person no longer exists.

This realization has left me with an internal void. What is my purpose? I believe that my family member passed away young because she had fulfilled her life purpose. She had fully blossomed into the most beautiful flower and I believe god always picks the most beautiful flowers in the garden. But what is my purpose? Am I fulfilling it? I don’t want to leave behind a house full of things if I didn’t use them to make someone else happy. I don’t want to become so fixated on the things in my life that I become sidetracked and neglect fulfilling my life purpose.

I love my job and feel that I am making a valuable contribution to the world around me. The company I work for changes lives for the better, and that inspires me to work to my full potential every single day. The technology this company creates saves lives, and makes an impact in the world that I could never make as an individual. But, I can’t help but feel like there is more that I can do.

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Volcano of Emotions

There is a very big hole in my heart filled with sadness. I’m saddened by the way you treat me, disappointed that you didn’t take the time to get to know me, and frustrated that I am giving more than I am receiving. I don’t know how to open up and tell you how I feel and that frustrates me. I can see my weakness and yet I don’t know how to overcome it. I wish I could tell you that I don’t like how you treat me without having a tsunami of tears stream down my face. The tears would show I am weak, and my current persona of being a strong person would instantly fade away.

Instead I lash out, hoping that maybe you would listen to what I’m saying and not how I am saying it. I admit that I come off as harsh when I express my feelings. It’s not that I don’t care, it’s that I care too much, and I wish I didn’t. Maybe if I stopped caring, my heart wouldn’t hurt so much. Perhaps then I wouldn’t feel like a prisoner of my mind, and I could spread my wings and be free.

Doctors have told me that I need to learn to let things go, because the unnecessary stress that it creates in my mind is causing my body to shut down on me. But, I don’t know how to get over things without getting closure. Maybe it’s because I’ve had to overcome my fair share of loss, and that’s left me with so many unresolved dead ends. I’m not too sure, but I feel like I need to discuss things with people in order to move forward with the relationship, and I’m not strong enough to have that discussion with you. Maybe it’s the fear of rejection, or the fear of not being heard that is acting as a barrier, preventing me from voicing my feelings. I’m not too sure.

What I do know is that I am a strong person, and just like any other obstacle that has been placed in front of me, I will overcome it. The way I see it, I have two options, I can either work on my relationship with you by expressing how I feel, or simply walk away. I know the latter would be the easier option, but how would that help me grow as a person? Isn’t the purpose of life to grow and become the best version of yourself that you can be? If I simply walk away from the relationship, what would I learn? How would I grow? I would be doing myself an injustice. Maybe the best approach for me to take is to express how I feel whether I am heard or not. I need to do my part and try. I can only control my actions and reactions to events. If I am not heard, or if you don’t care, at least I know I tried. At least I will know that I tried to fight for myself.

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Mind Shackling

Lately, I’ve been feeling confined by the shackles of my mind. The harder I pull to break free, the tighter the shackles become. I try to maneuver to free myself from the madness of my mind and when I think I’m finally free, the elasticity of the rope I’m tied to flings me back against the wall, and then I’m back to where I started.  I can’t escape the hollow feeling inside me. The more I try, the stronger they get. I’m trapped in a world of self-inflicted sadness – my mind keeps playing tricks on me.

I look in the mirror and I don’t recognize the person I see in front of me. I feel lost, and at the height of vulnerability, with no one to turn to. No one to understand the depth of my emptiness. I’m not sure how I got to this point. I was completely blindsided. Maybe there has always been a part of me that felt this  way, and only now that I am taking the time to learn about myself do I see this side of me as clear as day.
Maybe we all have a place inside us that is dark and hollow and filled with vulnerability, insecurity and sadness. After all, we are all human and we share the ability to laugh or cry, or be happy or sad. Our emotions are the thread that tie us all together. We have the ability to feel and analyze the world we live in.  We possess a unique ability to learn about ourselves, understand our strengths and our flaws. However, our perception always seems to skew how we see our lives and sometimes prevents us from seeing the good.

Perhaps the trick to overcoming these emotions is to understand that these emotions don’t define us. They are what make us human. We need to understand that in life we all have ups and downs, and to not allow ourselves to get stuck in the lows. Maybe we will forever remain shackled to the games our mind plays on us and a part of growing and learning in life is to find ways to maneuver through life with them. Perhaps it is the shackles that teach us life’s most valuable lessons and we have to learn to understand those lessons and continue on our journey.

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Breathe. Pause. Take A Minute.

Breathe. Pause. Take a minute to regain your strength and understand your worth. I feel as though I’ve become a prisoner of my thoughts. It doesn’t matter how hard I try, I can’t pull myself free from the shackles that are my insecurities. I try to stay positive and focus on the present. But the more I try, the stronger the memories of my past become. I’m not trying to run away from my past, I appreciate my past and the lessons I’ve learned.  However, lately I’ve become fixated with the negative emotions associated to the events that have taken place in my life. I wish I could control how I feel about the current circumstances in my life – instead of projecting the negativity of the past on to the present.  

I feel as though I’m standing in quick sand. The harder I try to free myself, the faster I sink in. While I exude confidence, I feel like a black hole inside. I feel lost and at the height of vulnerability. I feel haunted by the thought that I’m not good enough. When I least expect it, a little seed of insecurity appears in my mind, and like a fungus spreads to taint all of my thoughts.

Perhaps my insecurities aren’t insecurities, but rather fears in disguise. I’m at a turning point in my life, and maybe I’m afraid of myself. Maybe the fear of the unknown scares me, and I’m unintentionally sabotaging my mind to think that I am inadequate, when deep down I know I possess the potential to be great.  Perhaps I need to just let go and see where life takes me. Perhaps I need to take my advice to myself literally. Breathe. Pause. Take a minute to regain my strength and see where life takes me. Embrace the new direction of my life with open arms.

Bon Voyage Mon Ami

Growing up, I became accustomed to the people in my life passing away. Through the emotional trauma of losing loved ones, I learned to withdraw my emotions from the relationships I created, and to live my life with an inability to feel for those around me. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I had concluded that each individual’s presence in my life would be short lived. Until one day, I realized that I had created an invisible dome around me that prevented anyone from getting too close. I started to feel lonely and isolated, and I realized that I needed to make a change in my life.

Over time, I slowly learned to stop putting obstacles in my way, and to start fighting for myself. If I felt lonely in my life, I needed to evaluate my actions to see what I needed to change to overcome this emotion. I created strong, long lasting bonds with people, however, I never truly overcame my fear of abandonment. 

Recently, a very close friend of mine told me that she’s moving away. I didn’t realize the impact it would have on me until I digested what she was saying. She’s going!  While I know this is a great life decision for her, I can’t help but feel saddened by the news. She’s leaving me.  This news has caused me to experience a whirlwind of uncontrollable emotions. I feel sadness without purpose, frustration without cause, and a void that is bruising my spirit.  This is a great opportunity for her, and while I know there is no cause or reason for me to be upset, I can’t help but feel a sense of loss.  I don’t want her to go. For some weird reason, I just always assumed that she would be near. If I ever needed anything, she would be there.

The best way to describe my emotions is that she was a pillar in my life, and her absence in my life will be missed. Yes I can rearrange the pillars in my life to make sure that everything stays in tact, but I’ll always know that I’m one pillar short. I know that she is only a phone call away; but it’s not the same. I feel defeated, and need to find a way to come to grips with the shift in my life, and be proud of my friend. She is taking a huge leap into the unknown, and as a friend, I need to learn to not be selfish, and understand the insecurities and fears that she is feeling. Venturing into unfamiliar territory can be scary, and I have to have faith in our friendship and ensure that I am strong enough to be a pillar in her life to help her be successful in the transition into her new phase. 

 

The Ticking Clock

I’m sorry – they’re gone. The words feel like an avalanche of rocks, causing you to momentarily lose your breathe. The words cut and it feels like a sharply edged sword that leaves you feeling at the peak of vulnerability. It’s as though, at the snap of a finger, the world as you see it has slightly shifted its axis, and you have to find a way to exist in this new world.

Like many, I’ve had close relatives move into the next realm of life, and each time it has had made an impact on my life. I hold my memories of each passed loved one close to my heart, and once in a while I catch myself fondly thinking about the great memories we created together. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to meet such wonderful people, and I appreciate the impact they have made on my life. But, that doesn’t stop me from missing them every day, especially during milestones in my life. During my wedding, I remember missing my grandfather and wishing he was there to share in the great memories that were being created. He was the only one I wanted at my wedding that wasn’t on the guest list. While I know he lives in my heart, I wish I could physically touch him, talk to him, and interact with him, in some way. But, I know that’s not possible. So I hold on to memories of him sneaking me chocolate bars when my grandma wasn’t looking, or shopping for my very first bike. Memories that I’m latching on to with more strength as I grow older.

I also had a friend who commit suicide when I was 11 years old. This was my first real experience with death – he was my age – and at the time I didn’t understand why he chose to end his life. Growing up, I learned that he was bullied because he was gay and had a hard time accepting it, and in retrospect if he was, I wish he had told someone how he felt.  I would have been there to support and listen to him so that he didn’t feel isolated and lonely. It almost angers me to think, ‘if you had just fought for yourself – the world is a different place now. If you felt shamed – you shouldn’t have! The tiny bubble of high school isn’t a reflection of the real world’.

Sometimes, in life, I feel that we unintentionally get lost in the present clouds of sadness. We look around, search for something to grasp on to, and when we finally think we’ve found our footing, we start to feel the turbulence.  Grief is the same, we feel it in stages. After the initial shock has worn off, and we start to regain some stability, the second bout of grief hits us. That is when we truly start to feel the pain of loss.  However, we need to accept that life isn’t a constant. People come and go. Life’s circumstances change. The only thing that remains constant is how we grow as people. What was the purpose of us undergoing events in our lives? What did we learn about ourselves? How did the situation positively impact us? My grandfather gave me my sweet tooth for chocolate. In general I don’t like to eat sweets, but I love chocolate. My friend taught me compassion. He taught me to never judge people and let them exist the way they are. Everyone has a life journey, a purpose and when their time comes to move on, you have to accept it. Take the lessons that you learn from them and the happy memories you have created and cherish them.

Jumping Over Hurdles

At times, I feel that we are our worst enemy. We create a vision for our lives, and when we unexpectedly veer off course, or are pushed into unfamiliar territory, we start to see our lives through a shattered mirror. Our vision of ourselves becomes distorted. Thoughts like “this wasn’t meant to be my life”, “this put my life back 5 years” creep up on us and without realizing it, we’re left feeling vulnerable, helpless or both. It’s as though we mentally confine ourselves to the walls of a padded room in a physic ward. We become so entrapped in the current state of affairs that we fail to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Speaking as someone who has been pushed off a bridge into unfamiliar waters time and time again, I thoroughly understand the pain you feel when they splash into the icy cold abyss. The sharp pains you feel when the realization of where you are kicks in, and your inability to breathe as you look in every direction to find something to hold on to. We all have events in our lives that cause us to feel this way. The death of a loved one, the end of a relationship, learning that pregnancy may not be in the cards for you, not getting into the school of your choice, we all have events in our lives that seem shattering, but they make us stronger people. When you finally accept the changes in your life, and realize that you alone are the only person to pull yourself from the depths of sadness that have been created in your mind, you take a retrospective look at your life and realize that you may have underestimated yourself and tried to create a life that was inferior to what you deserve.

Growing up, I didn’t know what course my life was going to take. I became involved with a group of friends that I had no business associating with. I was in a relationship with someone who treated me slightly better than the dirt on the bottom of his shoes and silenced my voice. I can hide behind the excuse that I had an ill parent and that left me feeling confused and vulnerable. But the truth is, I had created this life for myself. I allowed my thoughts to control me and make me feel inferior. My life would have continued down that path if I didn’t fight for it. I had to fight for the life I thought I could create for myself. I set a list of goals for myself: Complete my master’s degree, find a life partner who will be respectful of the person I am (I wasn’t going to compromise who I was. I had already wasted 5 years and I wasn’t about to waste any more time), and be myself (whether people liked it or not). It was only when I decided to fight for myself that my life turned around, and I truly believe that this is the truth for many people. When we stop playing the victim in our lives and start taking control over what we want to accomplish, it puts us in a better state of mind. Yes, there are going to be events in our lives that push us off course, but it’s how we get back up that defines us. We can’t let the events in our lives define us. Similarly to a hurdle race in track in field, life is about jumping over hurdles. Sometimes our foot gets caught and we stumble, but we have to get back up and finish the race.