Moving Toward the Sun


I’ve been in a depressive episode for nearly 8 weeks. The decline has been gradual. There have been good days scattered throughout, but I’ve been edgy, tense, fatigued….my mind has been too loud some days, eerily silent during others. I’ve been crying off and on in my bathroom to hide my breaking from my kids…in my car as I drive from one errand to the next. I’ve had to shift to auto-pilot to just get through hard moments, root myself in detachment to keep from getting swallowed up by the stress. I’ve spent the last two weeks cycling rapidly between hypomania (marked mostly by agitation and a mind packed with too many thoughts), and a dragging depression that swallows me up and sends me into its belly for a few moments then spits me back out into the sun and air where I can breathe again. And then everything’s still and quiet…I feel “normal” and then the cycle repeats itself hourly, daily, weekly….and so it’s been for nearly 2 months now. Rinse. Settle. Repeat.

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I’m still in that critical postpartum window. I just weaned nearly a month ago. My body and hormones are in flux and adjusting as a result. I hate it.

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Stress is both motivating and crippling for me. I can handle 10 things going on all at once with ease. It’s once the 11th shows up demanding my attention that my mind starts to split and scatter off into darker corners. I think about my life these days and chide myself with all kinds of “should” statements for feeling and being overwhelmed by all I manage on a day-to-day basis: baby is teething & raging,  middle child with special needs, oldest was just diagnosed with ADHD and his enthusiasm for school has waned significantly, trying to overhaul our home and parenting lifestyles to accommodate and support their needs (like increasing structure and making our home more sensory friendly), supporting my husband while he deals with stress at work. New therapy schedules, trips to the pediatrician, and comprehensive psychometric testing have dominated our lives over the past month. Up ahead there is more testing to be done, and meetings with the school district to discuss accommodations for Brennan and evaluations and placement for Alex who is gearing up for preK this fall…

It’s not all stressful. I’m involved in birthing great projects. I’m taking my mom’s advice on avoiding burnout by feeding my spirit so I don’t fall prey to losing myself, you know? I’ve joined writing & art communities online,  I’m painting at 11pm, I’ve signed up for retreats and writing eCourses, done a couple of write-ins with groups, and I’ve done a juice cleanse to try to reset my body and mind. I’m re-reading Daring Greatly by Brene Brown as well as books on painting, sensory processing disorder, creativity, and feminism. I’m trying to find my way here still, in this space as far as my writing is concerned. I’m trying to learn how to embody all the parts of myself that have come alive over the past few years-artist, writer, advocate-in the midst of the daily demands on my person and time as a mother and wife. I’m trying to bloom where I’m planted. At 31, it’s still a stumbling process though.

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I’m searching for my flow amidst the rhythms, rocking and swaying as the ebb and flow of my life’s current carries me throughout my days. But the stress of everything gets triggering and I find myself cycling with the ebb and flow as a result sometimes. That’s when my knees buckle and my head spins. My chest constricts and my brain starts to feel like it’s suffocating. My grip gets weak. Fatigue sets in and my steps forward get heavy. Taking care of myself gets harder, and usually becomes the last checked off item on my must do list-if it’s checked off at all. I end each day feeling as though I have no safe place to come up for air and just process my thoughts, fears, and anxiety…I end most days feeling unsettled and bottled up, stuffed to capacity and as I close my eyes to sleep I’ve found myself starting to pray like Jabez, asking God or whoever is listening for an increase in capacity…in ability…in might…

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My hair is pink again with some blue added for extra fun. My hair and color are always my first lines of defense against the disorder of my brain chemistry and mood.

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I visited my psychiatrist last week at the VA. This is another area that I can’t seem to find solid footing. We’ve lived here for nearly two years and I’m on my 3rd psychiatrist. Obtaining talk therapy has been a fail. The appointment scheduling system here is confusing and useless to me because I have very little say in what days and times fit into my schedule that’s already inundated with the kid’s school and therapies. I’ve had to fight to get treated, and I’m constantly having to say “but if you read this and go here, research and experts agree that….”. I feel lost in a system that I’m constantly told is for me to use and that I should trust. But the bureaucracy I face with nearly every interaction chips away at that trust. I have no confidence in my mental health care these days, in the professionals assigned to my care. And yet, at my appointment last week, I sat in front of her desk and allowed myself to become undone. Completely and unapologetically. I unloaded nearly 24 months of thoughts and stress right there in her office in 20 minutes while my smiling baby squirmed and cooed in my arms. She listened to every word. Asked some questions that dug a little deeper. Apologized for all the trouble with the system I’ve had and for not really hearing me 6 weeks ago when I told her my anxiety was becoming a problem. She admitted that lack of knowledge about medications while breastfeeding restricted her ability to really give me what I was needing. We decided now that I’m no longer pregnant and breastfeeding we could get more aggressive with my meds again-go back to finding a more therapeutic dose. So over the next two months I’ll be doing that-going up on lamictal and prozac and trying out an additional med for anxiety. I started the increase yesterday. I’m hoping by the end of the week my brain and mood will start to grab ahold and adjust accordingly.

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I’ve struggled today to pick everything back up and keep walking. To push past and through. To square my shoulders and lift my chin. To turn a deaf ear to the tape playing in my head that has all kinds of lies and frenzied talk on a loop.

But I’m doing it-picking up and pushing. I’m moving forward. Slowly. The sun is shining outside despite the cold front that’s moved through. I’m working my way out into the sun, breathing in deep as I go.

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10 thoughts on “Moving Toward the Sun

  1. Hi. I’m BrandNEw to this site. (Still learning…so hang on with me). I have read your post and I’ve been through the same. Just hang on, but most important, believe in yourself! If you can fight this, you are able to do anything. Funny enough, I change my haircolor every second week. When I’m down, I dye it black, when Im happy, Its blonde…it keeps me going, and it makes me feel better. Holding thumbs for you!!!

  2. We love you. We are holding your hand through this stuggle. All you have to do is hold on. Please. It will get better. And the voice is liar…You is strong, you is kind, you is beautiful. You are amazing.

  3. Thank you for sharing with Us!! I have been where you are except my place to cry was my closet or my room. I know how hard it is. Every time I felt defeated it was because I let the thoughts consume me as if the lies were the truth. But once I’d call my hubby and express to him how I felt and the lies that were burrowing into my mind he would pray for me and that’s when I would release it to God. The peace I would feel was so amazing!! I realized my diet also had a lot to do with my depression. God telling me to cut certain good items out but I didn’t want to so my depression kept coming, the suicidal thoughts, the thoughts of hurting my family. Then one day it clicked and I realized how much it affected me. So I cut out certain items and it’s made such a huge difference in my life. Every once in a while I feel the thoughts trying to come in but they leave as fast as they came. God is good. Just think of the testimony you have and the voice you are to every woman who reads this and had or is or will go through it!! Together we take a stand!! I pray blessings and peace over you! I pray God would just guide ou through all this and be your strength. Amen!!!!

    P.s. Remember God is our strength. We are weak and that’s ok. We do need God. He is our key out of darkness. I may not know you but I feel like I have a special place for you in my heart.

  4. I love you hard.
    I’m so sorry that you’re struggling. It makes my heart hurt for you. Always remember that you’re beautiful, strong, well respected, fierce momma bear and that you will overcome this just like you have so many times before. I really hope that you can get that doctor business straightened out. I can’t even imagine looking for a new one. Shudder….
    PS. Don’t you wish that the hair dye could seep into your brain and make you as happy as the colours are? I do. It would be so much easier. I love it when you put spunk to your hair :)xxo

  5. Congratulations on being one of the “Voices of the year”. I hope you don’t mind if I follow your blog, I love to read in the morning. A cup of coffee and a good story goes hand in hand 🙂

  6. So I know I’m late to the party, but this post reached me right where I was. I say my last depressive episode was a month long, but I know it was longer, maybe even back to February. As you know, I had that miserable rapid cycling for a few days.Today is a questionable day. Anyway, I had so much to say and wanted to support you so much by commenting, but I have lost my train of thought. And now I’m crying for the second time today. Damn

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