I am moved by fancies that are curled around these images and cling to the notion of some infinitely gentle, infinitely suffering thing.
T.S. Eliot, Preludes
Today is the second day of October. It has been exactly one month since my last post,
a long time for me (and for us).
It’s not that I have been lazy
it is that I have not had the words.
As I sit here and type this now, I am scared. When I started blogging four and a half years ago my promise was to write with brutal honesty, in a way in which others were not comfortable speaking.
And so, I have to break my silence. And I have to break it now.
It seems almost fitting now that I think about it,
that my life would go through an epic transformation
as the hardest year in my existence was coming to a close
as the and just as a new year was to begin;
Not only was the Jewish New Year upon us,
but this month my son will turn one year old.
And it was at the end of this past year,
this year of so many changes, and just so much,
that I was hospitalized for the physical effects of my postpartum depression.
There. I said it.
I spent the last half of September, not dancing, but healing. In a hospital bed, in a hospital gown, in a hospital bracelet,
As far as my hospitalization goes, I don’t know if I have yet found the words to describe all that happened. I certainly can provide a few bullet points.
My postpartum depression from last November lead to my diagnosis of clinical malnourishment; this was twofold: the depression suppressed my appetite, as did the medications that I needed to take in order to stabilize my mood.
I lost a lot of weight. I was only 80% of what my body weight should be for my height.
My vitals were unstable, my blood had deficiencies and I was suffering from severe dehydration.
I was admitted to the hospital kicking and screaming. Not literally, but I was crying and bargaining.
I attended seminars on getting healthy.
I had a meal plan to follow and had to finish every drop that was on my plate.
I made friends with fellow inpatients ranging in age from 11 years old to 58.
I would bring up a topic in group therapy sessions, feeling alone and on my own island, and when the psychiatrist would poll the room, every single other person raised his or her hand in agreement.
I was not alone.
I did things by myself for the first time.
I could not go to the bathroom without supervision.
One weekend I borrowed a blowdryer from a 12 year old and Keratin spray from a 48 year old and we ran up and down the hospital halls as if they were dorm rooms and we were getting ready for a night out,
as opposed to a community meeting and a 9pm Chipwich.
I had to leave my family–my chlidren–for weeks.
My friends, who are my family, stepped it up like nothing I’ve ever seen. They watched my babies for me. They sent me photos of my son sleeping on their chests. They told me they loved me every single day.
And my husband…he became my hero.
So that is just a little bit of where I’ve been, both literally and figuratively.
I kept my hospitalization quiet for obvious reasons, but today I felt the need to share, and it came from an unexpected place;
I DVR’d The Perks of Being a Wallflower so that I could watch it at 7 minute increments during bottle feeds. I had seen it before, but at a different time in my life. And this movie is astoundingly magnificent. It is about feeling like an other. It is about mental illness. It is about love.
And I related to the characters in the movie, these others so profoundly, because in the past year I had to abandoned the girl I once was in order to find the woman whom I want to be.
I want to be strong. I want to have self control. I want to be grateful. I want to be happy.
And I am getting there.
In Perks, the fantastically alternative high schoolers take part in the live action portion of Rocky Horror Picture Show screenings, mouthing the words from Tim Curry and Susan Sarandon and dancing to “The Time Warp” and “Touch-a-touch-a-touch Me”.
And this got me thinking. It got me thinking about where I was in high school, and how I’ve grown and changed,
and wouldn’t you know it, but the way things work out sometimes is funny,
because my Senior Year Yearbook quote
to be saved for all posterity
is from none other than Rocky Horror:
“Don’t Dream it. Be it.”
And that is what I want to do. I want to be it. This year–this new year–I want to be it.
One day while I was at the hospital on an outpatient pass, midway through my stay, I had to stop at a gas station to fill up.
When I pulled up to the Full Service line, a man greeted me with a warm smile. I had had a bad day. It was one of those kicking and screaming type days. I just wanted to go home, yet I was the only one pulling on that end of the rope; everyone in my life–my family, my doctors there and at home, my husband, my friends–were all pulling on the other end, because they all wanted me to get healthy. My oldest, dearest friend texted me to say “I need you to be alive.”
And so I had swollen, red eyes, but was greeted by a smile from this stranger, and even though he did not end up filling up my tank with gas, he filled my heart that day. And I rolled down my window and gave him a tip and thanked him for the wide, beaming grin.
“It has been a bad day,” I told him.
He had a thick accent, as he was from Guatemala I later found out.
He apologized to me for my sadness, but then smiled again, warming me once more, and said,
“You just have to have faith. It will all work out. You just have to keep faith.”
There are good people in this world. I have been lucky enough to have been touched by many of them in my life,
but most especially, and most profoundly in this past year.
People have woven in and out of these past twelve months,
from friends sending photos
to parents sending love
to doctors with orders
and patients in hospital gowns
and my husband and kids with love…
and a gas station attendant with a smile.
So in his honor, I will embark upon this new year with something that I haven’t had in quite some time:
Some days are easier than others, but feel that I have been roused from the sleep of the devastating postpartum and am able to feel incredibly grateful for my blessings. For my heartbeats, both literal and poetic.
Happy New Year.
May it be so.