… And that’s O.K to say….
So it’s been quiet on the blogging front for a few weeks. I’ve tried; I’ve sat staring at a blank screen and tried to write a jovial post about my birthday or the Easter holidays with small people in tow. But the words just weren’t there. I had no humour. I am struggling to find those silver linings I always look for, the lighter points of life that keep things a float. My life feels unbalanced at the moment and the post natal depression I thought I had conquered seems to be looming over me, waiting at the door quietly simmering, at times crippling me in an inexplicable way. Depression is like that it’s a sneaky little fucker. Whilst you aren’t looking it lets itself in, puts the kettle on and makes a cup of tea then sits waiting for you to realise its set up shop in your life.
For me the route cause of the problem was physical. My inability to heal from P’s birth caused 16 weeks of physical agony. Seven infections, 9 courses of antibiotics, three lots of cauterising later my physical being was healed. My mental self left in ruins as a result.
Comparing myself to both family and friends only made this worse. I obviously haven’t inherited my mum’s ability to give birth naturally and quickly. She’s had all my siblings and me naturally, four hours being her longest labour. My first labour resulted in an emergency c-section, and Houdini went to special care with breathing difficulties. My second (the illustrious VBAC I was so obsessed with having after feeling I’d failed by having a C-Section) was super quick, when my fore waters finally broke, however P also went to special care due to an infection caused by being in broken waters for over 36 hours before she arrived. Within 4 days my stitches had disappeared completely replaced by a horrid infection; leaving me regretting my decision to have a VBAC. What should have felt like a massive achievement felt like another failure. Getting babies out is obviously not one of my key skills!
Seeing others coping with such ease at the arrival of the second child; whilst I had to move back in with my parents for 8 weeks following P’s birth to merely get through the day only made it worse. I had stopped parenting Houdini altogether at this point and relied wholly on Mr B (when he wasn’t working all the hours God sent to support our new family of four) & my parents picking up the slack on this front. I wasn’t really even nurturing my darling little P – merely feeding her and putting her back down as quickly as possible as it was so uncomfortable to sit and hold her. If It wasn’t for breastfeeding her I wouldn’t have picked her up at all. I was walking round in a haze of painkillers and antibiotics – at its worst a total of 27 tablets in one day were going into my body. Now looking back on this period I’m left with an underlying feeling of guilt for the lack of love, support and nurture in general I gave my children through this time. For those precious new born moments that I missed. Those moments of love shared between Houdini and his new sister as he grew into his new role of big brother. In my haze I didn’t stop to take in the magic.
The only way I can describe the feeling is I felt empty and I felt invisible. At times I still feel empty, I still feel invisible. In a sea of noise and motion, I felt silenced and static, unable to move through the madness of it all. As if I was looking in or looking down on the situations I found myself in.
I don’t have my shit together right now. I recently forgot to wear pants to work; worse still I forgot to go to a friends sons Christening. Unforgivable. Inexcusable. (The Christening not the pants, it’s O.K. to go commando once in a while right?) And I had no excuse other than “I don’t have my shit together right now”, it was there clear as day on the calendar, I hadn’t double booked. This was my lightbulb moment things weren’t O.K.
I’m aware so may Mum’s find themselves in the situation I’m in; for all of us it is different. No one person feels the same, every situation is different and requires different treatment, different coping mechanisms. I’ve lost my coping mechanisms, my mask is slipping.
I hid these feelings behind jokey conversations about my ‘broken vag’. I still do. Humour has been and continues to be my best coping mechanism. The old phrase ‘if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry’ has never rung so true. I desperately search for silver linings, finishing any tales of woe with that fail safe line “but I shouldn’t moan, I don’t live in Syria, I’m not being bombed”. But the fact I’m not being bombed doesn’t mean I have to feel O.K. and it doesn’t mean I have to pretend I’m O.K when I’m not.
I put on my face, my mask each day. Getting up, dressed and putting on make-up really has been one of the only things that keeps me going some days. If I allowed myself to stay in my pyjamas I may never get out of bed again
I struggle in big groups where I once thrived, I sit in the mix thinking the worst of myself and that I have nothing to say, that what I have to say is silly and no one wants to hear it. I’m not a fan of battling anymore; I’m battling too much with myself to get in the mix of large social groups. I no longer thrive or shine, but wilt and wither further into the shadows. I prefer ‘one on one’ I can manage that. Some days I am completely unable to join in, my mask doesn’t work, I can’t manage, and I just want to stay behind closed doors.
I worry when I’m out of the mist, when the light at the end of the tunnel gets put back on, I won’t have friends. I’m worried they’ll get board of me cancelling, rain checking, not having my shit together, and move on. I worry I’m not being a good friend, I’m not supporting others like I used to, I’m spread too thin, Jack of all friends, master friend to none!? I worry no one liked me in the first place. I can only liken this feeling to that of me at 14/15 years old, when a person liking me was tantamount. I morn the loss of the confident person I was 2 years ago. Comfy in my own skin, content in my friendship groups, owning my flaws, rocking my strengths.
I’m still here though. I know this isn’t normal, I know these feelings aren’t here to stay, I’m hopeful the light will go back on at the end of the tunnel. I’m just not sure how to find the light right now. For some reason I can’t talk to my friends and family’s out how I’m feeling; the words simply won’t come out. But writing it down is easy. Hopefully this is the beginning of the process, doesn’t the saying go ‘the best way to solve a problem is to recognise you have one’?
I’m not O.K. and that’s O.K. I will not be broken forever.