Fear has become my constant companion these past months, sowing seeds of doubt, confusion, and discouragement that have taken root deep down inside of me where my essence and passions are conceived. It has choked my creativity, inhibiting my freedom … Continue reading
It’s been a long week. It’s kicked my ass, but rest assured I’ve been fighting back. Monday, as you know, I learned that the VA (the Central TX VA healthcare system in particular) does not provide psychiatric treatment for women … Continue reading
First, some snaps from Alex’s post bath photo-shoot…
And secondly, I’m pretty sure my heart grew 2-3 sizes thanks to all the love pouring in it while these moments were captured. Which, if you ask me, is just the kind of expansion my mama heart needed seeing as though a new resident is moving in…
Looks like I’ll be having more than just turkey for Thanksgiving this year, y’all
Three years and five days ago, I went into labor on Easter night. Six to be exact. I had just finished eating and went into the kitchen when I felt the first contraction-THE contraction that my body used to inform my mind that it was time. As I gripped the counter top and exhaled my way through its duration, Mother Ezekiel’s words unearthed themselves from my memory and gripped my heart once again: “It’s time, ” she had whispered as she took my hand and drew me in close at the altar so I alone could hear the prayer on her heart for me…for us. “It’s time, and it’s going to be ok. All is well. It’s time for the baby to come and he will be such a blessing to you-oh how God LOVES this baby A’Driane, ” she said as her hands found their way to my belly and the small of my back.
Her grip was strong, yet gentle, much like the tone of her voice. I remember my heart breaking, releasing all of the turmoil that had been churning inside throughout my pregnancy. Her prayerful whispers of affirmation and encouragement were a soothing balm to my soul that had been bleeding quietly for months. I released the pain and weight of the depression I had been carrying and her arms encircled themselves around me, drawing me in yet even closer. Out of all of the altar calls I’d responded to in my life, that one was the most tender and beautiful. They were God’s arms holding me, it was God’s voice whispering healing and hope, affirming that despite the pain of the last month’s, my son and I were going to be ok.
My labor started that Easter night, at the end of my 36th week of pregnancy….and lasted for the following five days. Yes you read that correctly, people-FIVE DAYS. Even my OB couldn’t believe it. I was so desperate to move from 3 to 4 cm and be admitted to the hospital I left my OB’s office and instead of taking a walk as he suggested, I RAN. A. MILE. In a maternity dress and sandals as my sister tried to keep up w/Brennan in the stroller.
22 hours and five pushes later, there he was, Alex the Great, laying on my chest, jet black eyes squinting from the harsh delivery room lights….we had made it.
Today, he’s three and I’m always reminded of how I gave birth to him because every day he reminds me that he will do things in his own time, his own way, on his own terms. He’s not one to be rushed, pushed or prodded into anything be it a t-shirt or trying something for the first time. He is fiercely independent, bold, fearless even, but cautionary when it’s called for. He is a free thinker, stubborn like his father and I, adamant about having his way and never shy to voice his displeasure, but grows quiet when consumed with excitement. He’s an old man in a young man’s body, enjoying the simple pleasure of just sitting outside on the front step, observing all of the life going on around him. He trusts no one the way he does his big brother, and even we, Bertski and I have had to work diligently to earn his confidence.
He’s addicted to trains, cars and trucks. Want to see pure joy? Watch his entire body explode with it as one of his trains falls off of a “cliff”, be it the edge of the dining room table, the couch, or TV stand. Hear it in his laughter as you chase him around the house, or have him wrapped up in your arms as you tickle his belly.
Brennan saved me by healing my heart of wounds borne in childhood. Alex has saved me by forcing me to grow, mind, body and soul. As difficult as my pregnancy and first year postpartum were, carrying and giving birth to him helped me give birth to who I was underneath the wounds of my past. He’s the one who has given ME new life. Were it not for him, I wouldn’t be free of the tangles that kept me bound up in misery and ignorant of who I am. His birth led to me getting therapy and treatment and pushed me to grow and stretch in ways I didn’t think were possible. From the challenges that have come with mothering him while battling a mental illness, I’ve learned empathy, patience, grace, and that time is my friend and not my enemy. He’s taught me to slow down and LIVE. He’s taught me to seek and not just rely on what I’ve always known. He’s helped me expand my perspective and worldview. From him I’ve learned how to be open and flexible to whatever may come my way.
From the joys that have come with being his mother and watching him evolve into the three year old little boy he is today, I’ve learned how to cherish every laugh, every smile, every expression of love bestowed upon me, big or small. He’s taught me how to value the simplest of things and how to be an individual. He’s challenged everything I thought I knew about life and parenting, and taught me how to endure.
I’d be lost without you my sweet boy. I’m so glad you’re here. Happy birthday son. I love you.
My big boy is going to be SIX y’all. SIX. I can’t….I just….HE’S A MAN CHILD.
You can read last year’s birthday post here: http://butterfly-confessions.com/2012/02/22/he-fixes-me/
I have a lot of fears.
Well, maybe not a lot, but at least two or three that seize my body with terror & fill my mind with awful images & scenarios whenever I think of them.
The thought of not being able to draw in a breath without choking on water & being submerged in a body of water petrifies me.
And snakes…my toes curled up & my heart nearly flew out of my chest just typing that s-word…so I think it’s best we just move right along to my final fear:
I’m terrified of the dark.
Yes, I’m 29 years old and I’m afraid of the dark-have been since I was a kid. Even as grown woman & mother of two kids, a small part of me is always convinced something will emerge from it to “get me,” even though my rational mind knows this isn’t the case.
But that’s the thing about fears, right? They aren’t always rational, are they? (Follow me, I’m trying to go somewhere, I promise.)
I think what scares me the most about darkness is that it places everything it covers into The Land of the Unknown…what was sure & recognizable in the light becomes shadowy, fuzzy & unclear in the dark. For a control freak like myself, I’m sure you can imagine why this freaks me out. I wish I could tell you that I don’t stay awake some nights wondering if the shadow in the closet is really from the ironing board that I KNOW is there…or from some horrific figment of my imagination it’s put there to f– with me. Seriously, I wish I could but I can’t. I don’t do it much when I’m with someone else but if I’m by myself? Forget it. I’m cowering under the covers trying not to think about how unsafe I feel…Sometimes, just to shut up & shut down the fears screaming in my mind I have to actually get up, turn on a light, and go physically touch objects around the room I’m in…just for reassurance.
Crazy, right? Weird, right? Yes I know. Stupid? Probably…but as I lay here in my bed typing this and trying to tell myself I’m not going to wake up with some stranger laying next to or on me, and that the boys & I are VERY safe, I’m realizing that my fear of the dark is really just a fear of uncertainty. I hate not knowing. Ambiguity and I are not friends. Not being able to see & know everything around me leaves me in a very unsettled place emotionally…which disrupts me mentally, and manifests itself physically into agitation, irritability, paranoia, and crippling anxiety. I even get intrusive thoughts sometimes. My mind smells any hint of fear & just takes off in about 20 different directions, all of which lead to something horrific happening. If I can’t see or know everything there is about something, a person, or where I have to go, I’m a wreck and not too pleasant to be around. This is one of the reasons I hate getting lost. Can’t. Stand it.
And it’s one of the reasons why even though growing up a military brat acquainted me with change & taught me the importance of adjusting & adapting to it, I’m not very good at embracing it like I should be. I know, you’re thinking to yourself “The chick who changes her hair color every time she blinks is afraid of change? What the hell?” But seriously, while I may not be afraid of changing how I look, I am terrified of how change impacts my life in other areas.
I like change…There are times my restless and adventurous little soul yearns for it…but then when it shows up ready to deliver I promptly begin to freak the hell out. I know-I don’t get the contradiction either, trust me.
So even though I was dying to pack up & move across the country…am giddy at the thought of marrying the nerd of my life…am relieved to be taking a break from work & school and looking forward to just being MOM….here I am, laying in a hotel room in Austin, TX, (IN THE DARK!) absolutely paralyzed by my fear of the uncertain…of what’s unknown…imagine Usain Bolt running around at record speed inside my head waving 500 “what if?” flags stirring up a fear tornado. That’s my mind right now.
A fear tornado. I’m dead smack in the center staring wide eyed at all my fears & questions swirling furiously around me.
What happens if Bertski doesn’t come back from PA next week because his train derails and crashes and I’m forced to be here by myself? How would we survive & live without him?
What if someone breaks in here or attacks us while he’s gone? How would I defend us?
What if he changes his mind & doesn’t want to marry me?
What if he hates it here?
What if I hate it here? And the boys? What if this was a mistake?
We haven’t found a place yet-what if we don’t? How long can we stay here at the hotel? Will they kick us out? Where will we go?
What if by choosing to “just” be Mom, I lose the other parts of me that make me…ME? What will happen to my passions, my goals, my ambition? What if I don’t go back to school & I regret it? Will my children think less of me if I don’t have a degree? Will I be setting the bar too low for them if I don’t go back?
Can we survive off of just one income?
What if the boys get sick or need to go to the doctor? Or me? Or Bertski? We don’t have health insurance…
What if I’m not strong enough to handle all of this change & I sink into an episode or my illness rages out of control again?
I could go on…but I’ll stop the list there. I know some of these fears are irrational, slightly silly & maybe even stupid-I know this, I do. But there are others that are valid & real and they’re the ones that cause me the most unease. I’m incredibly happy we moved. Grateful for the people we’ve met here & the connections we’ve made despite being states away from family & friends who have supported us for years. Thrilled that I’m doing this with the man I love dearly and my boys…
But I’m also scared shitless over the unknowns of this venture, of everything that sits in the dark, and restricts my vision of the future. We’ve executed a plan that brought us here, but large amounts of that plan have been rooted in uncertainty & our desire to just stick together & “make it happen”until we’re settled.
I’m afraid of the dark, because not being able to see what’s in front of me leaves me feeling very unsettled…uneasy…uncomfortable. I’m trying to take it all in stride & just learn to be okay with not knowing. I’m trying to embrace the nuances of change without trying to control it too much. It’s not easy, but I’m trying.
Well there you have it. I told you some of my fears, what are yours?
“I could be daydreaming but for a moment
And somehow they’re creeping back in
I could be sleeping awakened the torrent
Somehow I get caught in their grips again
And here I am in my shame spiral
I’m sucked in to it again
And I reach out for your benevolent opinion
You bring the light back in
Don’t leave me here with all these critical voices
Cause they do their best to bring me down
When I’m alone with all these negative voices
I will need your help to turn them down…” Spiral/Havoc and Bright Lights/Alanis Morrisette
no one loves you.
you’re so weak.
first name incapable, last name burden-that’s you.
the Voice. it mercilessly plays it’s record of shame endlessly on my inner loudspeaker, stirring up my irrational insecurities into a paranoid frenzy.
no one loves you.
you’re so weak.
first name incapable, last name burden, that’s you.
tiny arms reach up & around my neck, pulling me in close as if to say “You’re mine, I won’t let It take you.”
boyish grins light up their faces as giggles escape from their little bodies as if to say “you make us so happy.”
little legs struggle to climb into my lap, seeking solace & comfort as if to say “I need you…we’re safe here, together.”
his voice travels confidently through the phone, reminding me once again that I haven’t been abandoned to wander Illness’ deadly streets on my own. “you’re not alone, you have me, I’m here, I came back, I’m not going anywhere. I love you, we’ll get through this together,” he says.
I am loved, they love me.
I’m strongest when I’m weak because I don’t give up.
first name Addy, last name capable, that’s me.
I am loved. I am needed. I am strong. I am capable….no matter how mixed & chaotic this illness makes me.
*I’ve been in a hypomanic/mixed mood since we left. It’s been hard, but thanks to my meds & my family I’ve been managing ok….until this past week. I’ve upped my meds again & am trying to wait patiently for the Austin VA to place me in their system and assign me a psychiatrist….I was told today it’s going to take 3-4 weeks. I’ll be fighting like hell to keep the heaviness & chaos from weighing me down…and praying my mind doesn’t get any worse. In my next post I swear I’ll finally tell you about the awesomeness that has become our lives in Austin…and those fears I mentioned last post-have to share those too. In the meantime, enjoy your Labor Day weekend lovelies.*
I was invited to write this post by a group of bloggers who are participating in a series of posts called “Things I’m Afraid to Tell You”. The TIATTY movement was inspired by a post from Jess Constable of Make … Continue reading
I had a lot of plans for today, this first official day of summer vacation.
Bertski started his new job today, so it’s my first day home with the boys all. by. my. self.
I gotta say, it’s been a relief and a huge comfort having Bertski home to help with the boys the past 4 weeks….Fun, even.
But now it’s just me….and the rambunctious, rowdy, raucous energy that encapsulates 2 & 5 year olds. It bounces off the walls, off the couch and off of our dining room chairs as squeals of delight and laughter burst from their little bodies…As loud as it gets and as chaotic as they can be, their shenanigans prove an effective way to quiet the noise and chaos in my own mind.
Last summer, the thought of being home by myself with them was overwhelming and my anxiety was through the roof. This summer, though, I find myself feeling much different. I’ve moved from beyond the grip of PPD, and no longer feel as disconnected & detached from them as I used to. Incorporating new meds and increasing the dosage on others has left me feeling about 75% better than I was 3-4 weeks ago.
I could feel a twinge of depression about an hour ago, and instead of being swept away by it, I felt mentally strong enough (thanks to my meds) to pause and figure out what it was stemming from.
Expectations. I had a lot of plans for today which led me to expect a fun-filled, productive day with the boys. I had a lot of expectations for today and for this summer because I want for it so much to not be like last year. I expected to start off our first day trying to make up for all the time I’ve lost from being too sick or too busy with school to really engage & just play with them.
I wanted to prove to myself I could take care of us, and handle being home without freaking out or being overwhelmed. I wanted to get up early, go for my morning walk/jog, make breakfast, take the boys out, and have them do more than just watch Nick Jr. or game on the XBox and iPad. I wanted to cook & have a hot meal on the table when Bertski gets home. I wanted to do yoga and write…
I had all of these fabulous “I’m going to be Wonder Woman today,” plans but I’ll be lucky if I can do more than move from the corner of the couch I currently occupy. My laptop is dead so any writing I do either has to wait or be done from my phone, with one hand. While doing a downward facing dog last week during my oh so glorious yoga routine, I strained some tendons & ligaments in my left arm and pulled a muscle in my chest. In other words I can’t move the left side of my upper body unless I want to die from pain or I’ve ingested a Motrin the size of my head. (Which is why, for the first time ever, I wish I had what they call a “peanut” head) Even turning my neck is painful. Docs orders? Rest for two weeks, follow up with an orthopedist. Oh & have I mentioned Brennan’s ringworm? Yea. That.
So here I am, with Whitney Houston’s version of “I’m Every Woman,” blasting in my head, stuck on the couch, my plans to tackle our first day of summer useless. No exercising. No yoga. Limited writing. Tired from pain & meds. A bouncy mattress, graham crackers, and Nick Jr. have been keeping the boys busy while I just sit here and watch to make sure they don’t kill each other. I did make the pot of pinto beans I wanted but learned cooking with one arm just isn’t a good idea….not if you don’t want your kids to find you passed out in the kitchen from pain.
Plans. Expectations. I had a laundry list of them today, thinking that accomplishing them all would ensure I’d be a “better mom” & woman than I have been in the past. So when I realized I was going to have to lay all of them aside, I started to get down on myself. The negative self-talk and guilt tape started to play in my mind…anxiety kicked in and set the “worst case scenario” snowball in motion. As my mind started to spiral into OCD mode and my emotions took a dive, I felt myself pause, just for a second, and I remembered something I learned in therapy:
“Change your expectations. Work within your limits, use what you DO have…Choose kindness. Be compassionate with yourself.”
That one second, filled to the brim of that crucial thought, was enough to stop depression in its tracks.
I changed the tape. Laughed at how ridiculous I must have looked as I hustled my way around the kitchen, thinking that home cooked food would cement my worthiness to my family. We may not be crafting and doing some of the activities I wanted but we’ve had a blast this morning singing Fresh Beat Band songs, getting angry at Dora (she sucks as a pirate), and watching these two bounce around and wrestle is downright hilarious.
Taking that brief pause allowed me to readjust and reframe. It wasn’t a lot, but it was enough to keep me from slipping over the edge. Expectations are tricky-give them too much power and they can set you up for failure. That hasn’t been easy to remember but I’m learning managing them in a healthy way makes a huge difference in how I see and treat myself.
My plans for today and the first two weeks of summer got tossed out the window, but I’m okay with that for once. We’ll figure it out and on the days I can’t, I’m perfectly fine with lounging around the apartment bra-less, in sweats, tapping my toes to “I’m Every Woman,” like I am right now. All that matters is that I’m here, being present and trying to enjoy the moments as they come. Sounds pretty productive if you really think about it
“My recovery from manic depression has been an evolution, not a sudden miracle.”
My psychiatrist has been telling me since I was diagnosed last July that for me, a person with Bipolar Disorder, recovery means stability, having less episodes, and being in control of my illness. She says while there was no cure for this illness, it’s possible to find stability and live a healthy life…it’s just going to take some hard work and patience on my part.
I believed her back then and I still want to believe her now. One of the hardest parts of this journey has been trying to find the right cocktail of medicines. I thought once I found that in March things would get easier. I think that’s why I’ve been so disappointed lately-my latest round of medication has helped significantly…but I’m still struggling and recognizing new symptoms that I need to learn how to manage. The setbacks have been hard to live with…there are days I’m overwhelmed and just want to give up.
I thought instead of writing about some of the things I’ve been struggling with lately, I’d talk about them in a video. It was WAY harder than I thought, and pretty emotional-totally wasn’t expecting that.
So forgive the tears…I apologize up front if my thoughts seem disjointed. My mind has been a wreck lately, all over the place. I talk about this in the video as well as my struggle to connect with others, and some fears I have.
I had to break it up into three parts…forgive the poor editing. (I recorded it on my phone)
- She Said It: Kathryn Greene McCreight on PPD, Bipolar Disorder & Faith (butterfly-confessions.com)