Let the anvils ring

You know that feeling when an anvil drops on your head? And everyone around you is just walking around like things are still normal and you wonder why they don’t notice that you’re carrying around an anvil on your head.

Your heart is racing out of your chest and your breath must be so loud the neighbors can hear. Your eyes darting around the room seeing only the danger, sharp corners that could cut a little forehead, light fixtures that could collapse on your child, furniture that could topple. Your body is both frozen and ready to run. And your mind… well, it’s just trying to catch up with your body so that it can figure out what the hell is going on.

Finally, you find a moment of solace in a dark and quiet space (closet). Your mind catches up with your body and you try to think your way out from under the anvil.

You look around and try to breathe in the beautiful fall colours, your children’s smiles, but the weight is still smothering you. You can’t breath. You are suffocating. Someone is crying about a crayon. Nothing matters anymore, your entire being is focused on trying to breathe.

You start to think about why this could be happening again? But you know the answer. You know the truth. It’s because the gods have shit on you and they shit anvils. That’s why.

Even though it’s dark and terrifying with your head squished under a rock, there is weird comfort in familiarity. If you just dissociate, it’s not so scary. If you can forget everything you used to love, you can hide the pain of being pulled from them. The warm cozy darkness is so tempting. But a part of you knows that this is not where you really want to be.

And you try to remember that once upon a time (yesterday) you had a life off of the floor. You had a family and you loved them and they loved you. You liked living and doing stuff. But the more hours/days that pass, the harder it is to believe things that seem so far off.

And there you are, again, back where you were. That hole that you worked so hard to climb out of. One blink and you are right back in the pit. You fall so fast. You find yourself hugging the wall again. Trying to keep your feet down. Like there are two people inside of you. Pushing and pulling.

But though you’ve been here before, you’re different this time. You’ve been feeding the right wolf. He’s gotten stronger. He’s pulling you back faster than ever before. Back to your life. The anvil disappears as suddenly (and as randomly) as it fell and you can breathe.

So you kiss your kids and your husband like a drowned man kisses the beach. And you convince yourself that it was the last time, but like the Wile E Coyote, no matter what you do, you are really just bidding time before the next anvil falls.



Joining up (a bit late) with my fellow postpartum mamas in a blogging carnival #forMiriam.

As soon as I heard that a woman with a baby in the backseat got shot while trying to drive her car through a White House security barrier, I felt like I had just barely dodged that bullet.

How many times did I wrestle intrusive thoughts that would have put me in danger?

The most upsetting part to me was that Miriam did ask for help. She was trying to protect herself and her daughter. She had been to the hospital, she had gotten the medications…

I walked into an emergency room once. They tell you to go there when you are “in crisis”. I don’t know why doctors tell people that. It was a horrible idea. I waited five hours for a doctor to look at me as if I were the scum of the earth and tell me to hire a nanny.

When I realized that I wasn’t going to get any help, I got up to leave. He said “It’s too late. You should have thought of that before you pulled the trigger by coming here.” (his very poor choice of words) Then he told me that he wouldn’t let me leave until he could call my husband to tell him where I was and to pick me up. I couldn’t leave on my own, even though I’d walked in that way. The hospital had my address from my health card.  He said that he could send child protective services. I had no idea what my rights were. I had walked right into a trap.

Imagine a diabetic walking into a hospital complaining of low blood sugar and being kept waiting for hours, only then to be seen by a doctor who admonishes him for not eating better and calls him a taxi.

I had a 1 year old and a 3 year old. I had a psychiatrist, a therapist and a loving husband. I shouted for help but nobody understood. I walked into the hospital and still I got no help.  I was finally put in touch with a 24hr Community Crisis Response Program provided by Saint Elizabeth Health Care in Toronto (416-498-0043).  I phoned them three more times that year.

Women who know that they have postpartum mood and anxiety disorders do not have enough safe places to turn for real help in times of crisis.

I am a face of postpartum mood and anxiety disorders. #forMiriam


Variations of this post have been sitting in my ‘drafts’ for a while… But I need to start adding my voice to the chorus. I found a ton of support from other women’s blogs. Especially,  postpartumprogress.com and ppdtojoy.com (and now mamascomfortcamp.com). Their honesty and openness was like they were holding up a light for me to see where I was.

@YaelSaar, this video rocked my world. Thank you for putting yourself out there so that I could understand where I was.

Walk of shame

Hi. I’m having a lot of trouble getting my thoughts together on this one. (I’ve rewritten this paragraph every hour since I published it.) I’ve been over-analyzing the “stigma of mental illness”. So here are some thoughts I’m having about that:

I’ve generally supported the idea of societal stigma against people like me. I usually agree with the idea that I deserve to be ashamed of my crazy self. But, since spending a week in the wilderness with 11 amazing women (more on that another day), I’m feeling more open to the possibility of nurturing a positive self-worth.

I listened to Brené Brown talk about shame. It was so validating to hear the way she spoke. She said that shame is “an intensely painful feeling that we are unworthy of love and belonging”.

I have spent a long time feeling like that every day. In my personal life, I feel deep shame for my depression, my anxiety, my ocd, my bipolar – the chaos and stress that I have brought to my family and friends. I feel deep shame for being who I am. I am very protective of my right to feel this shame.

On my trip, someone told me a story that went like this:

An old Cherokee told his grandson: “My son, there is a battle going on inside us all. It is a terrible fight between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, regret, greed, self-pity and guilt. The other is good – he is joy, humility, kindness, empathy and hope.”
The boy thought about it, and asked, “Grandfather, which wolf wins?”
The elder simply replied, “Whichever one you feed.”

Which one have I been feeding? Every time I hide the real me, I am feeding the shame.

I’m need to start feeding the pride. Little bites to start.

I want to feel pride in myself, not in my bipolar disorder. Pride in the woman who stares her bipolar monsters in the eye and says FUCK YOU – don’t hurt my kids. Pride in the woman who told herself that she wanted to carry a canoe and trained and lined up the stars to put herself in a place where she could do it- and then did it. Pride in the woman who refuses to take the smoother course and is giving her kids a life she never knew was possible.

I am complete.

brene brown quote