Monday, December 7, 2015

My Unconventional, Unexpected Support System

People are always going to walk in and out of your life.

This is the truth of life. Sometimes for a while you have a full floor show cabaret dancing around you all the time. Drinks, celebrations, streamers, confetti just spewing everywhere. You always have someone in your corner. Someone is in every corner! Then sometimes you are sitting alone in the corner, nursing a drink, all by yourself. That is just how life works. Sometimes it's our fault. Sometimes it's not. Sometimes it's just the way the planet spins. Sometimes when you live with depression and anxiety, it happens no matter what and you don't realize it.

Your schedule will not always jive with the folks in your life. Your lives will change. Your focus will shift. That floor show will dwindle in your more complicated, confusing times, mostly because we just don't know how to talk about shit. In my case, my head and it's inner workings sent me into the corner to nurse my drink and think about things, and I sat there and got drunk for a while. I sat down there one day and didn't get up again until I got pregnant. Through my wedding. Through job changes. That is how depression works. One day, you just shut the door. Often, you don't realize you did it. Sometimes people notice, often they don't. It's usually just assumed you are being aloof or dramatic or difficult or just a plain old bitch. Often, people tell you "You've changed". If only they knew you didn't. If only you knew how to tell them. If only they knew how hard it is that you don't know how.

Like Howard Jones says, no one is to blame. Truthfully, this really is life. And it will probably happen again. That doesn't make it any easier once you realized it's happened. I have been living with this disease most of my life. I don't remember life before it came. I only know life since it came in it's many forms, both medicated and not medicated. It's hard to make people understand what it's like. I'm not sad. I have a disease.

Then you become a parent. Sometimes that is what causes things to change. Sometimes that is what tells you that you need someone to talk to. For me, it is what showed me how much I needed something. I was introduced after both of my kids' births to an asshole named PPD and things got progressively worse. After my son was born, I had it, I was medicated, and I ignored it and hoped it would go away. It never did, but I convinced myself it did.

Life continued, and almost 11 years later, I had my daughter. Here comes asshole PPD again, only this time it brought friends. I have been battling it since. I have been in a mental holding pattern it seems since my daughter's birth. It's now been four months. Unfortunately, thanks to the horrific state of mental health care in this country, it's not the easiest thing to get treatment either. I have chronicled this a bit in a previous blog. At present, I am still waiting to see a doctor. This would all be extremely difficult if not for an unexpected and unconventional support system.

My first pregnancy with my now 11 year old son was complicated. I gained a lot of weight, I had a long labor, and a difficult birth and recovery. This time around, pregnancy was scary...but after what I went through the first round, I figured I was prepared. I was wrong. I was deemed high risk. I had lots of tests. I had lots of worries. I had a more than a few scares. Two head over heels down two flights of stairs. I had a c-section after having had a vaginal birth the first time. I had a ton of questions. A ton of worries. Sometimes I wondered how crazy I was driving my husband.

I was fortunate. I stumbled upon a website that introduced me to a mom's group. The folks that would help me keep my head above the water. My unconventional, unexpected support system.

I had one during my first pregnancy and when things got complicated in my life way back when, I fell away from it. When I became pregnant again so many years later, I went looking for it again and was unable to find it. I did find another forum though and began going there with my fears, my questions, the stuff I had a hard time talking to other people about. It was support I needed. People dealing with the same things I was. At the same stage of life. What a relief! Then I lost the pregnancy.

I had to step away from the group for a while to mourn the loss. It was after this that I felt myself start to slip into a funk. We had not planned to become pregnant when we did, but when it happens and you realize that it was something you wanted all along. Then all of a sudden, it's gone. A life within your body. A light that was just suddenly turned off. It's not something I think you ever really get over. I pulled back a lot then. It is really what started the snowball rolling down the hill. There is no book on how to deal with something like this. No manual. Some websites and literature, but grieving someone I never met was not something I was at all prepared to do. I never will be. From that moment on, I was walking numbly through my life. My already present brain issues now shrouded in something I could not shake off. Again though, I just told myself I was ok.

I didn't know how much I wasn't. But, a year later, we found ourselves pregnant again. Terrified but joyful, I went back to the forum where I had found wisdom and support and this time my pregnancy stuck. Over the next few months, a group of mom's expecting at the same time as me migrated to a Facebook group to keep better connected. I will never be able to explain how important this was, and is, in my life.

Together, we got to know one another's families. One another's hopes. One another's dreams. One another's fears. All the while, there was a supportive hand on my back. In the rest of my life, I was battling myself every day. Walking through a cloud I couldn't manage to explain to anyone, no matter how hard I tried. But I always had that hand on my back. I didn't have to explain why I was not present. I didn't have to explain why I didn't call. I didn't have to do anything but be, and that was what I really needed then. We experienced tragedies and losses together. We experienced scary events in our pregnancies. Falls, accidents, early labors, early deliveries. NICU's. Confusions. Family troubles. And then we experienced joy. Births.

Amazing, wonderful, terrifying, incredible births. Including my own.

So many emotions flooding through me. I had other women struggling with PPD to talk to. I had women who had not dealt with it themselves, but were still eager to understand and offer whatever they had to give. As I was falling apart, I was being held together. There was a story in the news recently about a mom who had passed away not long after the birth of her child. Her husband was not really aware of the mom group she belonged to...until donated breast milk began to arrive. (you can read about it HERE) In our group, we shared the story and said, "This would be us..."

And it would be.

My husband didn't really understand my mom group, but he laughed with me at pictures of adorable babies, cried with me at tragedies within the group, and really understood it when one day, after things had been hard for us recently, a box of penis shaped gummy candies showed up in our mail. Followed not to long after by two huge containers of Nutella and an anonymous gift. Things we had discussed. Things we had joked about. Things that were just intended to bring a smile. Then he got it. He was my main support beam, but he knows one beam can't hold up the whole house when it's as rickety as this one tends to be. These were not just women chatting on the internet. These were women across the world who really, truly cared about one another. I will never forget these women. I pray they are always in my life.

I am still dealing with my demons. I fight them every day. It would be a lot harder though without the army behind me. My husband, my family, and my moms group. The army I didn't know I needed until I needed. If you are struggling, I pray you can find an army. An army of one, an army of many. Just that hand on your back so you know, even when things are difficult and you don't know how to proceed, someone is there to guide you through the dark.

No comments: