Focusing On a Dream

So, I am legally disabled because of my depression and a co-morbid condition complicated by genetics. Long story short one day I was the best employee ever; then one morning I was broken!

With that being said I often struggle with the fact that I am not what I once was and I feel useless. I was raised to pull my weight and to give my all. My disease took away my ability to function as I am ingrained to do. It worsened my depression and anxiety which fuels my co-morbid condtition and in reverse order. It has been almost 7 yeas since I fell ill, 5 years since I have been able to work, and 4 years since I was legally deemed disabled.

I have learned the hardway that we are not our jobs and we can always reinvent ourselves. We use occupation to define us, but more often than not we are something much more complex and beautiful than what when do to pay our bills.

As a Mom, which I thought I would never get to be, I often feel more guilt for my inablility to provide for my family. I never feel that I measure up. Everyone is always saying things like “oh, you get to stay at home, how nice not to have to work.” I usually respond with something like I can’t work, I wish I could. I LOVE MY SON, but I did not choose to not work. I never thought it would bother me so much not to work. I mean people usually complain about their job, but I long to be something other than a disabled Mom.

I decided to pursue my writing and self publish and while it feels good it is difficult to stand out. I enjoy the creation process, however beyond self satisfaction the reward is small. I recently also decided to become a freelance writer. I really feel like I can be useful when I feel well. I just hpe this takes some pressure off my husband.

I am happy yet worried.

Panic On Vacation

So I had my first real chance at a vacation in almost 7 years! It was also my first large event and the first over night away from my son since I brought him home from Nicu. My son is almost 2 years old and he spent his first 30 days of life in Nicu. I may be a little attached! I have also acxepted recently that my spouse does not want anymore children so my son is my one and only tiny human.

Anyhow, my husband and I are members of a running and adult recreational group that has world wide chapters. Our “kennel” was hoasting 4 state kennel event and I really wanted to go! I felt ready after all the hormonal and psychological chaos of the past 2 years. My PPP(post partum psychosis) was under control, panic attacks were quiet, headaches were minimal, and I was starting to love me again!

I had my mother stay with my little human. He is very attached to her and he reminds her of my younger brother, her baby boy. I was a little worried that he might wear my mother out as she is not a spring chicken these days and he is a handful at times. Otherwise I was not consciously worried about being away from my son. I was excited to just be me for a fee days.

I was unable to sleep normally while I was away. I woke up every couple of hours to a panic attack. The attacks were mild. The night was quiet and yet sooo loud! In the morning the birds were so loud my brain could not tune them out.

A few days of less than normal sleep isn’t too horrible. I was having a great time. I was not socially anxious which I tend to be. I was more confident about myself and my body thanI have been in a long time.

I met a lot of new people and experienced a lot of new things. I felt “normal” it was amazing!

I did have one full blown panic attack, however we had been dealing with an aquaintences diabetic instabilities and we ending up sending her into the hospital to get her levels under control, so the nerves from that set me off. I did well bringing my self under control and I felt in control soon after. Overall I am doing much better with public places and groups of strangers.

I was glad to be home after all of the excitement and I was more excited to see my son than he was to see me. I feel like it was a success and I plan to have weekends with my husband more often.

After being gone I did have my normal “hang over” from increased activities in complex environments, but it was worth it!

Who’s Momming Has Been More Challenging? Mum Vs. Mom Vs. Mommy

Sometimes I feel like there is a compettition going on in motherhood support groups. I mean even ones that promote themselves as all including and no Mother is better than another types.

I am a member of several different online communities for various reasons and when I was becoming a Mum I joined a few groups for support and community. One was a Nicu group because my son was born a bit early and that makes a person feel very alone. There are some others I joined because I breast fed my son and I had a doula. One theme I seem to see in the groups is overcoming.

I used to think overcoming was an admirable thing. You know, you got delt a crappy hand but you soldiered on in the parenting deparment. Lately, I feel like fellow Mums are trying to outdue each other’s struggle stories. I mean a Mum reaches out for support or kind words and the comments turn into one horrible story after another. I mean if I can relate to someone’s situation I share but I try to focus on how a situation can be improved. When I read through other’s comments it seems like they are saying I Overcame More so You will be Just fine.

While for some that may in some way be motivating to me it feels like we are discounting other’s journey in Motherhood. I have had my troubles, but I have no desire to out due another Mum’s painnor struggle. I guess I feel as though we(mothers as a whole) are selfish in our support of each other more often than we might realize.

Anyhow, this made me think long and hard before commenting on anyone’s cry for understanding and community. I want to only offer words that help others to move into a better place and not hold them back by leading them to focus on 9ne situation verses another.

Tiny Cuddly Dinosaur…

My greatest ahcievement and challenege is my “tiny human”! I thought he might only ever be a dream. I will be honest in my dreams he was a she with curly black hair. But when my tiny blonde boy joined the world my heart could not have been fuller.

He was far from unplanned and he changed my life in ways I could never have imagined. From the moment I chose to try to concieve I had to be brave and trust in all I cannot see. I had to stop taking medications that had gotten me to a “stable” place. I had to remove safeholds and truly believe in myself, my body, and my support system. I was handing over the controls. That was the scarriest part. I was not in control of everything…

One of my biggest challenges is accepting that I am not in control of everything in my life. I have worked years on admitting this and trying to learn to let go of what I cannot control. Even when I am doing well, you can see it is a struggle for me. For instance I started pre-natal vitamins before I even had my IUD removed. I layed with my legs in the air after everytime we had sex just to be sure the sperm got all the help they could from gravity! Neither of us had any known fertility troubles, but I needed to know I was controling everything I could. Not to mention calculating the best time to get frisky during the month!

I was happy and absolutely terrified my entire pregnancy! There was so much I could not control. Everyday was an un ending prayer that my baby would be happy and healthy; that I would be able to do everything in my power to assure this was what happened.

Intellectually I knew that there was only so much I could do. I had to trust my body and have faith this child would be born, happy, healthy, and whole.

I never shared with my husband the fear I lived with as in our marraige I am the optomist and he is the pessimist. I know that is wierd, an optomistic clinically depressed person. Maybe that is why I struggle so much with my depression. It is very much against my nature. Anyhow, I carried the burden alone in silence to help my husband be strong. I think I did it because he lost his job of 10yrs shortly after we found out he were having a boy. My husband had never been fired in his life and he was never without employment. Needless to say this was a challenge.

We had always had things to battle as my husband married me in the chaos of no diagnosis. But this time it really changed our marriage. We rarely ever fought. We always worked on communication because I refused to be in a relationship without honesty and communication. I had been there and done that! Anyhow, we started fighting more about stupid things. I was constantly appologizing and constantly tiptoing around my husband’s bruised ego. He refused to file for unemployment though he totally deserved it. He was wrongfully fired and he wasn’t the only one. (We live in a state where you don’t have to have a reason to fire an employee, but the reason for it was completely false.) I stayed as positive as I could through it and kept my own fears bottled up all day. I would cry at night when I needed to as he slept.

I really don’t know how I did it. My family was supportive and we got so much help from people we didn’t know. My son has never wanted for anything even though I am unable to hold a job and my husband had to take a job that paid his ten grand less a year.

My son decided to come two weeks early. I was the calm one waking my husband around 6am or so after already calling the doctor and showering. I knew I was having a c- section if only for well, not even 24 hours. My son was frank breech almost all of my pregnancy so I knew he would not come the most natural way. I was calm until they gave the official ok we will be in OR in 15 minutes and I was rushed by medical professionals with needles and machines. I threw up from the adrenaline and in the moments following it I got my husband back! He was still in this funk and I had been feeling so alone.

I had a panic attack while the doctors were delivering my son and he barely made any noise when he came out. He looked a little blue. I think I may have lost my mind a little at that point. I could not touch him because all the muscles in my arms had tighened up and I couldn’t get up because of the epidural. My son needed oxygen and was taken to the Nicu! I only remember telling my husband not to leave him alone!

I should have lost my mind a little at the point but I went numb emotionally. It was two days before I was allowed to hold my son. I had to bestrong for my husband again as our little boy was having seziures and having trouble breathing. I was the one laying in the hospital bed , but I was comforting him and telling him our son was strong and that he would come out of this. In the end I was right. Our son spent 30days in Nicu mostly because he had to prove he could nurse well enough for growth. I never thought about it at the time, but I was taking and passing one of the biggest tests of my life. I could only control that I was pumping milk for my son. I made sure I was eating well and staying hydrated and I read to him and sang to him and repeatedly told him he had this! He was a super kid and he was going home soon.

Everytime the doctors worried about something they only had to say it out loud in his presence and he fixed it. Not eating enough. Done! Not awake enough. Done! He even stopped having siezures after the first few days. I mean he was amazing! He was stronger than any of us, he gave me every reason to hope and he contantly reminds me to this day that we are overcomers.

We fight more now that we have our son, and we have more than exhausted days, but he gives us more joy then we could imagine.

He is my tiny cuddly dinosour. Watch out world here comes my TINY HUMAN!

Why aren’t mornings optional?

…the birds are chirping outside the window and sunlight is streaming in…

NoT!

…my kid is babbling to himself and I wake due to my inability to pretend I can’t hear him through the baby monitor…

Mornings are difficult for me. Early morning and late evening seem to be the times the dark moodiness sets in. My bed is either completely inhospitable or it saps all my will to do more than blink and breathe.

Insomnia keeps me awake when I should be sleeping and after finally conquering my inability to sleep all I want to do is snuggle down under the covers and hide away from the world. I know I am not the only one, but having to fight it everyday sucks! I have to continually remind myself that I am a Mum and I am no longer only responsible for myself. I am absolutely Crazy in Love withbmy son, but my brain tries to sabbotage me every chance it gets!

It could be the rain here lately that adds to the gloom and desire to sleep all day, but mostly it is the sheer exhaustion of being a Mum on depression meds. I am happy and doing well, but my happy and well are low key compared to many. But there I go again comparing myself to other Mums!

I am constantly waring with myself over how I am different from the “normal moms” out there. HA! NORMAL! I need to delete that word from my personal vocabulary maybe I would worry less.

Anyhow, once I force myself out of bed the beautiful smile of my son makes leaving my warm cacoon worth it. I find reflecting on the joy that fills my soul when I look into his little blue eyes helps me find purpose and strength I didn’t think I had.

So I guess my advice for today is find that little thing to hold onto and use it to leave the prison of your bed behind and make something of your day.

YOU’VE GOT THIS!

I always longed to be a mother; not a broken cog.

Like many, I have always longed to be a mother. Mum, mommy, mom, mother, ma, mama. I know exactly when I knew it was part of my life’s destiny. It was woven into the fiber of my being and while it may not have been something I shouted from the mountain tops I did not hide the desire away either. I guess, I was just as most are. I wasn’t obsessed with becoming a mother, but I always believed it would be part of my life’s journey.

By the time I finished all my growing up and getting an education, I pretty much wore myself out. I put the dream away because I got sick. I was ill with the sort of thing that can make a person spiral into insanity while just trying to find simple answers to the question, “what’s wrong with me?”

I finally found a life partner and I couldn’t take care of myself! I had an education but it was useless as the knowledge simply lay stagnant in my brain. I could be as smart as I wanted, but it did not matter when my body was failing me.

Eventually I was diagnosed with Majior depressive disorder (MDD), general anxiety disorder (GAD), and chronic suggestive dizziness disorder (CSD). Basically I felt like I was walking on a sailing ship and it made me sadder than sad, and absolutley terrified all at the same time.

Who in their right mind would ever want to be a mother with a life like this? No one, that’s for sure!

I have a partner, a willing loving partner and now I am damaged goods. I lost my identity, my ability to focus, my ability to hold down a job and my ability to function!

Any plans of being a mother that I had were simply gone. If I can’t take care of myself how could I ever be a mother? Who would want me as a mother? Who in their right mind would pass on their genes if there was this genetic possibility that your children could experience the hell you live in right now?

That was a very dark part of my life and I denied the very fiber of my being because I believed I was not fit to be someone’s mother. I was damaged goods and I had nothing to offer. There was a lot of medication and medical testing. I cried so much I thought I had run out of tears.

Once medications stabilized and a diagnosis was made I still felt numb and isolated. Families and children, even my own relatives caused me anxiety and panic. The weight of the world was on my shoulders, but no one had put it there. I believed that I was less than everyone else. I believed that my disease was less than other ailments. I was damaged in an invisible way and while I knew logically and intellectually that disease is disease whether or not you can physically see the deficits it causes, my brain was sick and it clouded everything.

I have worked for years with professionals to find a “normal” for myself and to begin to accept myself as I am. I hate myself and that has taken a long time to say out loud or even to admit in writing.

One of the best things anyone ever asked me was, “why are you not good enough? Who said you couldn’t be a mother?” I was my own worst enemy.

If you are a mentally ill man or woman or any variation of , “who said you couldn’t be a parent? The answer is no one!”

No one can decide if you are able to be a parent except for you! Just because your brain doesn’t function like many other’s do does not mean you are anyless qualified for parenthood. People with missing limbs and genetic mutations and imperfect genes become parents all the time. You are no different from one of them. Your brain is an organ just like your liver or your heart. Those whose organs need assitance functioning are not disqualified from parenthood, so why should you or I be? We should not. We are not! We need to afford ourselves the chance to become guardians of life and teachers of young minds.

I know I am not the only person out there that has gone through this turmoil. I know many people are wading through this exact diffifulty and I want you to know you are not the only one.

Here I hope to share the joys of loving myself, believing in myself, and not allowing disease to control how far I can allow my dreams to expand.

Mental illness can be a very lonely road in life even when we are surrounded.

Hang in there! You’ve got this!