I’ve been finishing up my 50,000 word count for NaNoWriMo this weekend. I’m about 4,000 words shy of this goal and this process has been…..cathartic….revealing, even. I thought when I did this, 50,000 words & 175 pages would be enough to contain “my story.” However, it seems the more I go back and remember, the more I reflect, the more words that I type, just when I think I have nothing left to say…..more comes to the surface, overflowing and spilling onto the screen in front of me and even down my cheeks….
Because I’ve been thinking a lot about my life over the past 10 years while writing, I found myself digging through my storage bins and poring over the stacks of journals I’ve kept since I was 19.
While reading through one of them, I came across an entry I wrote when Brennan was about 4 months old. Tears, a steady stream of them came winding down my face as I read the words of a new mother who was struggling to take care of an infant all on her own. Then came the memories….flashbacks of crying, screaming, anger, intense pain….I remembered the first 6 months of Brennan’s life like they were yesterday, and knowing what I know about PPD and PPA now, I reflect on these memories and see myself, at 24, being consumed by these disorders and not even recognizing it.
In April of this year, when I finally sought and found treatment for my PPD & PPA after Alex’s 1st birthday, I remember the therapist asking me if I suffered with PPD after having Brennan.
“Honestly? I don’t remember…I…I’m not sure. I..I know I was sad and angry and some other things, but honestly I was just too consumed with trying to survive to even think about if I was depressed. I mean, it was just me. I was newly separated from the military and his father wasn’t doing anything to help me. I didn’t have a job. My unemployment was hardly meeting my expenses, and I was living with friends. If I ever considered myself depressed, I just attributed it to all of that and being a new mother. Everyone told me being a single parent was going to be tough…I…I just assumed feeling the way I felt was just part of the package.”
Looking back, knowing what I know now, having been educated to the signs, risk factors, and various symptoms of PPD & PPA, and reading these words, I see it. I see me struggling through them while trying to raise my first born. And that pains me. It tears me up because not knowing what to look for, not having someone there to push me to get help put me in some very dark places those first 2 years. The dark places I found myself wandering in during my pregnancy and after Alex’s birth would have made much more sense had I been able to recognize them 3 years prior.
Reading the entries in that journal was painful as were the memories that found there way back to the forefront of my mind. (sigh) But….at least I know now, right?
Here’s one of the entries I found:
There it is again
a malicious intent to harm
that’s come and gone before
I’m able to acknowledge it’s existence;
the only evidence of its surfacing,
a tiny, fragmented piece of your innocence
that’s fallen to the floor
along with expectations I’ve fallen short of.
this wasn’t supposed to happen.
Where are the loving thoughts?
What happened to the sunshine?
When did it get so dark in here?
Who put out the warmth,
Who rewrote this fairytale,
because this isn’t the ending I expected.
Its worn off….how can that be?
Its origin is a mystery to me….
You’re supposed to be everything I wanted.
We’re supposed to be happy.
But now you’re crying,
and I’m trying to escape the guilt that’s
chasing after me.
I’m so sorry.
I never meant for this to happen.
But how do I tell you that?
How do I show you that I really do love you,
my sanity just caved under the pressure
and I slipped before I could catch myself.
Maybe I can find redemption somewhere in
perhaps you’ll forget this mistake.
I pray to God you will.
Forgive me…for I know not what I do.