Popular Tags:

Now what?

November 10, 2014 at 11:11 pm

I’ve been pregnant or nursing and caring for my children full-time for more than a decade. I’ve been blogging about pregnancy, birth, and mothering for over seven of those years. As a new mom, I had been neglecting to meet my own needs for intellectual growth and fulfillment, but my blog gave me that outlet. From 2009 until 2011 I wrote a book with four co-authors about spirituality and birth. Birth has been my passion (obsession?) for most of my adult life thus far.

But I don’t expect I will ever give birth or breastfeed again (so many mixed feelings about that one). My “baby” is nearly four years old. And I can feel my brain pulling away from birth. I still yearn for all women to have empowering and beautiful birth experiences, but my mind no longer buzzes with birthy topics and blogpost ideas.

Now what?

crossroadImage Source

Buried Treasure

October 10, 2014 at 7:42 pm

I wanted to be healed. I wanted to be calm and happy without medication. I wanted to meet the baby who had been visiting me in dreams and visions. I was on a trajectory of hope, aiming for a future I believed was right for me. When it all came crashing down, there was no sense in reaching for that hoped-for life any longer. All I could reach for was getting through another day, and another, and another.

Fortunately, I’m no longer in survival mode. I’m not fighting tooth and nail to get through the day. When I do still have anxiety, it is mild and manageable. I am finally beyond the insomnia that plagued me for months. I’m sleeping without sleep-aids! Most of the time I can genuinely smile. I can take care of my family. I’ve regained my appetite. All of these things are huge victories.

But now that I have the energy to do more than just survive, I also have the energy to look to the future. Assuming that my medication continues to work for me, I will continue to take it… probably forever. I come from a family riddled with mental illness. Most of the members of my immediate family are taking (and always will be taking) meds for those illnesses. I am certainly in good company. But I wish it weren’t so. I wanted a future without medication, and it’s been painful to accept the future I’m looking at instead.

Be What You Are

September 21, 2014 at 10:27 pm

I haven’t spent much time online in the past five months. Except for checking email, blogging, and getting on facebook to share my posts and occasionally beg for prayers, I have mostly avoided the Internet. Pretty much everything online exacerbated my anxiety, so it was a necessity to insulate myself.

Now that the benzos are out of my system, it’s amazing how much better I feel. Yay! Note to self: your body and benzos are a bad (bad, bad, bad, bad) mix. Shudder. Anyway… now that I’m feeling better, I’ve been spending (i.e. wasting) more time online. And I started noticing something: I have a bone to pick with the world.

Pinterest world, you’re one of the worst offenders. I kind of want to scream every time I see pins like this:

brokenheartmsile

Suicide Prevention Week

September 11, 2014 at 5:23 pm

This morning a friend posted this on my facebook profile: “This week is National Suicide Prevention Week. Your life makes all the difference. Sending love and hugs.” I didn’t know that this week was National Suicide Prevention Week  until she told me.

Do you know the warning signs of Suicide? The American Association of Suicidology shares this mnemonic:

IS PATH WARM?

I Ideation
S Substance Abuse

P Purposelessness
A Anxiety
T Trapped
H Hopelessness

W Withdrawal
A Anger
R Recklessness
M Mood Changes

I Am a Desert Poppy

September 3, 2014 at 6:14 pm

Back at the end of May, as we were franticly packing up for our sudden early departure to my parents’ house, my mind was scattered with horrific thoughts and images. In those moments, nearly two days without sleep, my body pulsing with panic, I prepared myself to kiss my children good-bye, perhaps for good. I don’t exaggerate when I say that I was sure I was either going to spend the rest of my life in a psychiatric hospital or soon be dead by my own hands.

Then the doorbell rang. A little while later, my husband returned from answering the door, carrying a cheerful-looking basket full of yellow things. Last year, I had brought a friend a “basket of sunshine” when she was stressed-out and struggling, and she said now it was my turn. One of the gifts in her basket was a picture she had painted.

IMG_1481

Choosing Happiness

August 31, 2014 at 10:42 pm

Wednesday night I took a walk by myself. Surviving that day had taken everything I had. I hadn’t slept the night before. I was exhausted in every possible way. As I made my way back home, I started to cry. The words from a song were playing over and over in my head: “How many times can I break till I shatter?” It felt like I had reached my absolute limit. After walking in the door, my quiet tears turned into soul-wracking sobs that didn’t die down for at least an hour.

I don’t know how or why, but that night was a turning point. Whether something shifted inside of me or something shifted somewhere else I don’t know, but something shifted. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday were mostly good. I’m having some mild benzo withdrawal symptoms this afternoon, but nothing I can’t handle. Who knows what the coming week+ will bring, but I’m grateful to be spending more time staring at my husband because I’m noticing how very handsome he is rather than staring at him because I’m pleading with my eyes for him to tell me I’m going to be OK.

People often say, “Happiness is a choice.” A part of me wants to instantly reject that notion. If it was really that simple, I wouldn’t be popping an anti-depressant pill every morning and the term “mental illness” wouldn’t exist. But at the same time, a part of me recognizes that it’s true.  Happiness is a result of choices we make.

Endurance

August 26, 2014 at 1:22 am

Tonight I will be cutting my dose again.

As much as I’m eager to leave benzodiazepines behind, it always feels a little bit like voluntarily submitting to torture when I reduce my dose. Generally the next two days are alright. The third… not so much. If the pattern continues, this Thursday should be interesting.

In other news, my sleep is definitely taking a hit. Sunday morning I woke up at 3:45 and couldn’t go back to sleep. This morning I woke up at 3:30, but I was fortunately able to fall back to sleep until 5:00-ish.  When I start catastrophizing, I imagine that I’m going to have some sleepless nights coming up. So far my worst fears haven’t materialized, so I’m hoping the trend continues.

I think it’s safe to say that the past four months have been the most difficult I’ve ever endured. I really hope September will bring mercy. I really hope I don’t have another month+ of withdrawals to look forward to. I really hope the next couple of weeks don’t kill me. <—Did you hear that? That’s called a will to live. It’s nice to have one again. I hope it sticks around. Never take yours for granted, friends.

A Photo Tour

August 20, 2014 at 3:08 am

So far tapering off my night-time dose has gone much smoother than I feared. I’m still getting sleep (thus far). Having my stepmom here over the weekend was a great support. Yesterday was really rough, lots of withdrawals, but today has been much better.

Here’s what my life looks like these days…

IMG_1436

I try to get outside for some sunshine with my feet in the grass at least once a day.

Now More Than Ever

August 16, 2014 at 2:00 am

I know. This is dragging on and on. You’re probably tired of hearing about it. I’m tired of enduring it. But tonight is a big night. Tonight I start tapering off my night-time dose of the benzodiazepine.

I can’t even begin to tell you how much I want this drug out of my life and out of my body. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I wish I had never allowed this drug into my body. The next few weeks could be really intense. Getting sleep could become a rarity. Things could also go much smoother than I fear. I have no idea what’s going to happen. I have no control over what’s going to happen. But I’m terrified. I’ve already endured some pretty horrific withdrawals for the past couple of weeks, and I do not want to experience any more.

I know I’ve already asked for so many prayers, but I need your love and support now more than ever. Things you can do to help me get through this:

  • Send daily emails with encouraging words.
  • Make a meal for my family (if you’re local).
  • Call me (if you have my number).
  • Send me a card in the mail (if you have my address).
  • Post an encouraging comment on this post.
  • Pray for me.
  • Do whatever other nice thing you feel inspired to do.

My psychologist stepmom is flying in tonight to help give me extra support until Monday. Then my mom will be flying in Tuesday through Thursday. I have lots of local friends who are doing a remarkable job of supporting me as well. I feel like it’s taking a pretty big village to keep me going.

The other night my almost-11-year-old daughter told me she wants a tree necklace for her birthday (a little over a month away). I really hope I’m smiling and anxiety-free when I give it to her.

unnamed-4

Yes, You Can

August 12, 2014 at 12:23 am

I’m still here.

Still battling withdrawals. They’re still brutal. I never really know when a withdrawal episode will hit or how long it will last. Sometimes a few minutes, sometimes a few hours. The good news is that once the panic subsides, I usually go back to a baseline of relative calm.

I feel like the SSRI is helping a little more each day. Today my husband was working later, but I made dinner all by myself… something I haven’t been able to do for a long time. That feels like a small victory. I have been spending most mornings and some afternoons at various friends’ houses (it helps pass the time/I don’t like to be alone), and I’m able to smile and mostly enjoy being with them when I’m not having a “withdrawal episode.” That feels like progress. Last night I went to an important meeting I didn’t think I would be capable of attending and felt calm while I was there. That was a gift.

But I’m not done with this battle. I still have to wean off my night-time dose of the benzodiazepene. I have no idea how my body is going to respond to that. But the only way out is through. I wish I could skip the rest of August.

More than once during my withdrawal episodes, eyes full of panic and desperation, I have told my husband, “I can’t do this.” He always says the same thing, “Yes, you can.” And I try to believe him.

 

Withdrawal

August 6, 2014 at 11:10 pm

Right now I feel almost myself. Yesterday was horrid. This morning was horrid. But right now is good. I love it when I feel good. Who knows what tomorrow will bring, but I’m grateful for this moment.

So my psychiatrist prescribed me two medications back in June. One was a fast-acting anxiety drug (benzodiazepine) to help me sleep and take the edge off the anxiety (low dose). The plan was that I would wean off of the benzodiazepene as the SSRI (anti-depressant) began to take full effect (roughly two months). Benzodiazepines are notorious for creating dependencies and addictions. I’ve heard horror stories about benzodiazepines, so I really didn’t want to take one. But the doctor told me it was “impossible” for me to become dependent or reach a tolerance within the period of time I would be taking it. He promised me I wouldn’t have any withdrawal symptoms.

Your Help Matters

August 2, 2014 at 11:05 pm

Yesterday I received some feedback from a reader. She said, in part, “I’ve got to unfollow you. Wishing you the best but three years of downers is making me depressed.” After seven years as a blogger, I’ve come to accept that you can’t please everyone. I’ve also learned a lot about how to minimize negative feedback. But I’m in a really vulnerable place. So this one really hurt.

I tried to keep reminding myself that the overwhelming majority of the people who are following my blog care about me and appreciate my honesty about my struggles. But just minutes after wincing from this “unfollowing” incident, I received an email from a friend. She has been in these agonizing trenches before. She gets it. Her words were just what I needed to lift me in that moment. I hope she won’t mind me quoting her here:

Done

July 31, 2014 at 6:18 pm

Since coming home, I have felt considerably worse. I feel like I’m going backward. People say it’s to be expected with the stressful transition, heat, and trying to get my kids ready for school. But I’ve really regressed. The anxiety is worse, the depression is deep. I really don’t know how much more I can take. I feel like I’ve gone so far backward. Everyone keeps telling me I will get through this, that things will get better, and they seem so confident about it. But I feel so done. I feel so exhausted. I feel like it will never end.

I want to be the mother my children need. I want to be myself. I hardly remember what it was like to be myself.

I am desperate.

The minutes and hours drag by so slowly.

I want to be done. More than anything in the world, I want my self back.

461047060396526_a-2205819c_N6OpUQ_pm

 

 

 

Weary but Winning

July 26, 2014 at 6:32 pm

A couple of days ago we took the long drive home. Back to life. Back to the AZ heat. Back to being 600 miles away from most of my family. I was so nervous to leave my safe haven at my dad’s house. I cried a lot the day before we left. But I hoped that coming home would feel like progress, that it would feel good to be in my own space again.

There is a comfort in being home, but at the same time I feel like I’ve taken several steps backward. Perhaps it’s just all the stress of traveling and having a broken a/c unit and a 99-degree house upon arrival. Perhaps it’s my husband going back to work on Monday and sending my 3rd child to kindergarten the week afterward. Perhaps it’s the heat. Perhaps it’s sleep deprivation. Perhaps it’s my kids being extra grumpy from all of this upheaval and vacation food. Perhaps it’s that I’m supposed to start planning/hosting twice-a-month activities for 10/11-year-old girls from my church at my home soon.

I feel so overwhelmed. I am so tired. I am so weary. I feel discouraged, run down, and stressed. My husband, parents, sister, psychiatrist… they tell me I’m making great progress, they tell me I’m “almost there,” but today it doesn’t feel like it. Today I feel so defeated.

I’ve certainly felt this way before. And somehow I kept going. Somehow I eventually reached a point where I felt like myself again. And I shared this photo to encourage others who needed a boost…

Tug of War

July 18, 2014 at 4:51 pm

This morning I woke up before my husband and kids. I usually do. In that hour or two until they wake I usually try to go back to sleep. Sometimes I beg God to let me fall back to sleep. Sometimes I do. But usually I just lie there and pray… for my husband, for my kids, for all the people who are praying for me. I pray for strength, for endurance, for shields of light, for miracles. Some days I get up, and I feel almost normal. Those are gifts.

This morning I awoke with a heavy heart, with fear, with despair, with bitterness (PMS probably has something to do with it). And I cried and cried until it got really snotty and messy. I am so weary. I am so tired of fighting for my life. This tug of war, pulling me apart, stretching my soul to its breaking pointI don’t know how much more I can take.

The darkness whispers, “Life’s just too hard. What’s the point? It’s just going to get harder. It’s not worth this agony. Why prolong the misery any more?”

My husband, my parents, my sister, my friendsthey hold my hand, they hug me, they tell me, “You’re going to get through this. It won’t always be like this. You will feel happy again.” I make them promise me.  A few nights ago, as we were all getting situated in our beds to sleep, my three-year-old said, out of the blue, in the most serious and tender voice, “You’re going to be alright, Mom.” 

Visit Us On FacebookVisit Us On TwitterVisit Us On Pinterest