Today I had a very stressful day. I was agitated more than I was happy. I had terrible anxiety and moments of deep sadness. I confided in my husband. I emailed a friend who lives in another state. I did things with my son to try to cope, finding new toys that would make him happy (as he spent the better part of an hour this morning shrieking for me to give him his father’s tub of hair putty).
My grandparents came over for lunch, as I needed them to watch the baby for me so I could go to a doctor’s appointment. There are times on this site when I share more details than others–sometimes I am purposely vague–but today I will open up and tell you the whole story. Pardon me if things seem a bit scattered; I am doing the best that I can.
As I have mentioned, we are now in the end stages of finishing our basement , (Carpet goes in tomorrow! We have outlets!) after we had a great flood last year, ruining an entire POD worth of possessions and leading to the carbon monoxide poisoning of both me and my children. That was (is) stressful, but I am very excited about our new big, great living and play space. Not only do I love this because in the finishing of the basement do we gain a new family room from our sunroom and a new guestroom from our former playroom, but I love home design (if you are new on here, I wrote about the transformation of my home on a site called 511 Ever After). I have had a ball picking out paint colors and fixtures and carpeting and tile and it feels kind of nice and grown up to build something of our own, truly from the ground up. But not only am I excited about my basement, I am proud; I felt proud when we got up from the lunch table and I toured my Mommom through the partially finished space. I am going to be honest in saying that it felt good to be able to say, “Here is where I had them put in closets with built in shelves for the toys and then look, we created a nook over here.” and “Look at my new laundry room.” because I have always struggled with feeling like a real grown up (as if I am some sort of imposter) and this made me feel really accomplished in a way that I have not before.
And then, Mommom and I walked up the steps and someone working in the house said, “Um, I am not sure what is going on, but I think that there is a problem in the garage.”
To give you a visual, our garage is off of the kitchen, next to our back door and powder room and mudroom area. I opened the door and saw water spraying out from the house-side of the basement. Spraying with force. A pipe had burst (I am assuming) and water was covering the things that we moved from the basement to the garage to store, and also things like sports equipment, bikes and strollers. Fortunately, I had electricians working here, and they knew more than I do about home repair, so they shut off the faulty pipe, but I was very upset. Another burst pipe? Really? Just as we are getting our (house related) lives back together?
And then I realized, I was running late for my appointment with the doctor. And this wasn’t one of my normal doctor visits. And I couldn’t find my keys, so I ran around, and my Poppop told me to slow down 15 times and cautioned me to drive safely to the hospital, but I was in a frenzy.
As I drove to the hospital, the place where I had both of my children
and the place where I was told that I would not longer be able to have any more children,
I called my dear friend. “I just needed to say this out loud to someone who will understand.” And she was so kind and compassionate and she did.
I walked through the hospital feeling trailed by ghosts. As I walked in the atrium, I saw myself, 18 months ago, walking through the same area, my belly so far out in front of me. I remembered the kind of tea I had ordered and I remembered the hard phone conversations I had had on a specific bench and I broke a little inside.
“I am never going to have that ever again.” That sentiment echoed in my head on repeat. I couldn’t help it. And I am grateful for my family and my children and my recovery, but I am still in pain.
In any case, I was particularly nervous for my visit to this particular doctor, for a very specific reason. In “The Hardest Post I’ve Ever Written”, I said:
“In having my son, my sweet angel of a little boy whom I love with all of my heart, I experienced great depression…the hormones. The crushing hormones that sneak up on you and embrace you in their anxiety-producing grasp. So I suffered what I now know is called peripartum depression. I felt down. Not all of the time, but some of the time. A lot of the time. I couldn’t focus on my family. I had scary thoughts. But I was ok. I was still myself.
And I saw doctors and they were all concerned for me for after the birth. I remember one saying “I am concerned about you having this baby and having a walloping case of postpartum depression.” And I didn’t quite understand it but I knew to fear it.”
My appointment today was with a neurologist. I have never written about this before on here, but when I was 7 months pregnant I had a severe migraine with a complex aura. I am sure that many of you suffer from migraines, my oldest friend has had them for years, but that day was truly one of the scariest in my entire life. I have had many migraines in my life, most of them silent, but twice I have experienced an aura. The first time was in 7th grade math class. I began to see bubbles in front of my eye and my hand went numb and then went home with a crushing headache and vomiting. And by home, I actually mean to Mommom’s apartment where she took care of me and I watched “The Price is Right”.
The second time was much worse. As I said, I was very pregnant and I was sitting in my sunroom and playing with my daughter when I started to see black spots in front of one of my eyes, as if I had been looking into the sun or a bright light. That then quickly turned into a trail of shimmering lights and a vague headache. At this point, because I knew enough about migraines, thinking I was on the verge of an ocular migraine, I called my mom to come over to help me with my daughter.
She took me into bed and we all cuddled up in my darkened bedroom and she kept the dialogue going with me in order to distract me, but suddenly I realized that I was losing a word or two per sentence. And then I lost the ability to speak or communicate. I could think what I wanted to say, I could speak, but I was talking in gibberish. And I sent a few text messages during that time to try to ask for help, but they were in completely incoherent as well. I could not get words out. That was the single scariest thing I can ever remember happening to me. After that, the numbness and excruciating headache that lasted for two days seemed like a piece of cake. Truly.
In any case, I went to a neurologist early in the Fall of 2013, 33 weeks pregnant, and was diagnosed with “Complex migraines with aura”. And then I sat in my new neurologist’s office and I sobbed. I sobbed to him about my fears about a repeat C-Section when my OBGYN was not taking me seriously (he intervened and wrote a note to him, explaining that I needed to be treated with more care, thank you very much) and I sobbed about my fears about a repeat child. And more. And he is the doctor who said, “I am not worried about a neurological problem with you; what I am worried about is that you are going to develop a walloping case of postpartum depression.”
He gave me prescriptions that day, for medicines (that I have not taken), for tests (that I did not have done) and a note with the name of a psychiatrist.
This is the psychiatrist whom I see twice every week.
This man, this doctor, had a profound impact on my life, and he had no idea (because I never followed up with him as I was supposed to). I apologized today for being a “bad patient” and he said “I am in no way angry with you, I just want to get you better.” and ordered a new round of tests (I have to suck it up and get the dreaded MRI/MRA but this time I do not have a basketball sized stomach and can take anxiety medicine) and will be seeing me again in a month. He truly seemed to care.
I left the hospital a little shaken. I was nervous about my upcoming tests and nervous about what I would come home to find, and the elevator was not working, and because I had not been able to find a parking space, I had to park on the top tier of the garage. I took a deep breath and walked up the four flights of stairs (which, I realize, is not a lot, but for me, right now, it is) and got to the top when I realized that I had not paid for parking before leaving the hospital, which is their newish policy. So back down I went. And then back up, again. And I had to laugh.
What a day.
I got home and my grandparents were playing with the kids and my aunt had come over and brought them fun toys and my husband was home and hugged me in the way that I needed to be hugged.
And if I haven’t gotten real so far, here it is.
I have been advised by some people to share less on this site; all of these suggestions have been well intentioned, absolutely, but they have basically ranged from the notion that I am perpetuating my “hard story” by continuing to write about it and myself, to the fact that I want to still be regarded as a trustworthy member of the community, without the stigma of mental illness attached to my name.
But I don’t believe that.
Because the first thing that I wanted to do after holding my son and snuggling my daughter and hugging my husband was to let my fingers slide across this keyboard and let the words pour out of me (like, let’s say a flood. Too soon?) This is my outlet. Yes, my primary goal with this site is to help others, but I am most definitely helping myself in the process.
So you may have noticed that my posts recently have been a bit more upbeat and light. That is for two reasons: First, because things have been going pretty well, and for that I am so grateful. But second, it is because I have made a conscious effort to try to make this blog less “harsh” or “honest” or “self-reflective”. But that’s not who I am.
And today was a bad day. And it is OK for me to admit that I have had a bad day.
If people look at me differently for it, then it is their problem.
My tribe, my true, deeply rooted tribe of people, love me and support me and build me up, even on my weakest days (and sometimes mostly on my weakest days. Do you know how many of my people have sat on my bed with me in the past 6 months alone? When I’ve needed them they were not only “there”, they were right there). They don’t try to silence me, they let me be who I am, and that is honest and communicative and as I said to my husband during a teary conversation on Saturday, “I must be doing something right, because look at my friends.” I have the best friends in the world. No, really, I do.
So today I felt anxious, I felt proud, I confronted a new home challenge and ghosts from my past, and took steps towards taking care of myself, both medically and emotionally. Like my basement, I am a work in progress, and unexpected obstacles come up, but I am learning to fix them. I am finding my strength.
And it’s funny; as I type this I am realizing something. Maybe today wasn’t so bad, after all.