b a r e

writing is healing. ask me anything.

tug of war

I am at peace. I am at peace. Oh God I’m losing my mind! My healing is already in progress. My healing is already in progress. Please take this nausea away! I can’t breath! I’m trying. I’m really trying. To stay positive. To focus on the calm, the light. It’s so hard. It’s hard if I think it’s hard. How do I make it not hard. I am calm. I am the light. I am breathing. My heart rate is too fast! In and out, breath in and out. I’m trying not to throw up! Help me please. Make these symptoms go away. I am hanging on. I am healing. I am making incremental improvements. Every day, a tiny bit better, a tiny bit easier. Make it go faster. Start with the nausea! The nausea makes me panic, which creates the nausea. Get off me! Get off my neck! I am breathing. I am calm. I am at peace. I am healing. I am safe. I trust the Universe. I just want to be better already. Hurry  up. I just want myself back. I just want existing to be easier. To be easy. Please. Please. Please.

Breathing. Peace. Calm. Comfort. Rest. Light. Ease. Allow. Trust. Heal.

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struggling against the entire universe

“The more readily you accept the circumstances of your life as they are in this moment, the easier your life becomes. When you struggle against this moment, you’re actually struggling against the entire Universe. And while you may have the intention for your life to change in some way, accepting it, as it is right now, places you in the best position to attain your goals.”

Day 13 – Abundance and the Law of Least Effort
Chopra Meditation Experience, Creating Abundance

I’m fighting and clawing with all my might at the invisible thing choking me, squashing me. And then it occurs to me, the harder I fight and the stronger I push it away…the harder it chokes and squeezes. I’m fighting myself! And I’m losing. Instead of seeing this as an alien trying to destroy me from the outside, I now recognize this fight as coming from inside myself. The only way to win is to accept it. It’s not easy. Instinct wants to kick at, kick off, the intruder. These are real, physical sensations. My mantra: “I accept this.” I keep repeating it. I have to constantly remind myself…accept, accept. But I am finding a measure of peace, despite the sensations. And right now, I’ll take what I can get.

hang on

And just like that I’m there again. No sleep last night. And my sanity has unraveled today. Faking it so my daughter doesn’t see. Can’t breath. Can’t find calm. No energy, no appetite, but no rest. Heart pounding, pounding, pounding. I can’t take it. I don’t want to be here. To be. Gotta hang on. Hang on. Gotta remember this is temporary. It has to be.

What do you wish you could do over that is part of your illness experience?

Where did it begin? With the pregnancy itself? With finding out it was a girl? With knowing the OB was wrong, that she was in fact still breech. With stubbornly deciding to have a version? With accepting the doctor’s declaration that we weren’t leaving the hospital that day? How could I have changed that? How could I have convinced myself to forgo the natural birth I wanted so badly. To accept it wasn’t going to happen – accept that without trying to do something – and come to terms with a c-section. And mourn the loss of my desire, wish, decision. And prepare for surgery. Surgery. Being sliced open on a table while my arms are tied down. Naked and exposed to a room full of strangers with knives. Helpless. A vessel for a child. A container. Scooped out, wiped down, stapled back together. Then wheeled away. Agony. How do you fix this scenario? Where do you make me a human being in this equation. When do I matter. Not just my flesh, my stats, my numbers. But my humanity. How do you alter a medical situation when once you’re in it you are part of the machine. A business that wants to check off its lists and bill you for it. Don’t interrupt, what you say doesn’t matter, worse, it’s an intrusion. Just let them do their job! Stop asking for things. You’re getting what they planned on giving you, what’s in the budget. Do your time, let us do whatever we want to do to you, when we want to do it, and then get out. Your 4 days are done. Outside in the world of concrete and blistering sun. Figure it out, because you’ve reached the end of our help. Goodbye.

unwelcome passenger

There you are again. The unwelcome, familiar passenger. Sitting on my chest. Heavy. Unshakable. I can’t breath. Gulping air in but cannot fill my lungs. When I carry you around, you get in the way of everything. I no longer directly touch anything I come in contact with. Everything is a few feet away farther. Just out of reach. Distorted by your interference. When I hug my child. When I hug my husband. When I watch tv. When I eat a meal. When I talk to someone. You make it hard to hear. You make it hard to pay attention, to stay focused. I start to talk and you get in the way, what was I saying, what were the words I was looking for. You’re blocking them. A wall in between me and everything else. If I move fast, can I get around – no, you’re already there. And so I’m not quite myself, not quite inside my body. Because my body is such an uncomfortable place to be. When I’m touched, I don’t feel anything. When I’m spoken to, it’s from miles away. I’m in limbo, not quite anywhere. I’m a balloon, floating further and further away.

please

I can’t breathe. There’s a tightness around my throat and a pressure on my chest. The nausea is constant. I keep taking big breaths, forcing the air in and out. I keep clawing at my shirt collar, hoping that will help somehow. This is the first time in years I haven’t been on antidepressants during my cycle. I feel so exposed. Like a deep layer of skin has been removed from my body. Every hard word or sound, every jarring or startling experience, feel like chunks of my flesh are sawed off, leaving me shaking and traumatized. It is so uncomfortable to be. It is so exhausting to be. I am trying to remind myself, this is temporary. But every moment, every second, lasts forever. This isn’t a 5 minute panic attack. This is nonstop, unending, ever present from the moment I hit consciousness in the morning until the moment my sleep meds kick in. Please stop. Please stop. Please stop. Please make it stop.

Writing this helps. Posting this makes me feel less alone.

what is this

My anxiety and depression used to be textbook perfect.

My panic attacks always came on like a tornado. The sucking building pressure and then the mind crushing explosion as the storm hit. Shaking and crying and a surety that the end was upon me. It would blow through me, devastating me, then leave me in a scattered pile of jagged pieces on its way out.

My depression was the bottom of a dark hole, miles away from the light at the top. Feeling completely worthless, a burden, disgusting, a waste of space, deserving of only misery. All willpower crushed out of me. All self-advocacy erased. I had no say, because nothing I could say would ever have any value.

But lately I think I’m dealing with a completely new beast. There are things that scare me, that demand action in my life. I can see them clearly. But it’s like they’re down at the end of a long tunnel. I can’t reach them. They’re so far away. And I’m so very, very tired. I try to push forward. But it’s not so much mud or sludge, as it is hardened concrete around my legs. I know I should be screaming and waving my arms to get attention. But instead I just try to keep the oxygen going in and out of my lungs. And I aim some darts in its general direction. So something kind of gets done. Why can’t I be aggressive? I used to be so good at that. Get in your face and demand. And instead I’m mostly paralyzed. Dragging forward, some.

But I’m not sad. I’m not value-less. I’m not filled with self-loathing. I’m not terrified. I’m not covered in knives of fear and worry. I’m not crying nonstop for no specific reasons. I don’t wish I could just disappear. Every day, for at least one moment, I feel the flame of joy in my heart. (I remember going months without any light or warmth inside me.) I am grateful to be on solid ground, instead of beneath it.

I wonder if it’s the “new” me, or a transitioning “current me.” That’s what we’re told to expect. You won’t ever be the person you were before. So figure out how to appreciate the person you now see in the mirror. I’m trying, I’m really trying.

blessed

This morning was yet another tough to wake up, tear myself out of sleep, drag myself out of bed, push my leaden self forward. But then I get to school and everything difficult about existing falls away, like shedding an outer layer and floating forward with new, fresh, plump skin. The children’s energy renews me, fills me up, fuels me so that I’m pushing forward with energy I didn’t even realize I had. I see their progress, it’s tangible and exciting, and I’m so very proud that I’m filled with buoyancy and delight. This is right. This is where I’m supposed to be.

recovered?

A new mom asked this in a forum:

“Is there really an end to this.. Like 100% healed? I feel like what I have is too disturbing and terrible to ever go away.”

My answer:

I went through an outpatient program at a hospital and they talked about accepting a “new normal”. Now, I refuse to accept that this means my new normal is misery. But I don’t think we can ever go back to the person we were before we had our birth/postpartum experience.

Like any trauma, it has left a mark on our psyche. And so we have a choice about what to do with that. I’ve tried wallowing, and that worked for a while, but it got in the way of joy. I’ve tried hiding from the world, but I missed out on living.

So I’m at a place in the middle between where I used to be and the pit I had dropped into. Sometimes I need to wallow, and I give myself space to do so. But I don’t move back in there. Sometimes I need to hide from the world, and I accept that, that I don’t have the stamina of the extrovert I used to be. But I also challenge myself, just a little, and over time I see progress towards a new me. Wiser, stronger, but also weaker in some ways, and accepting of that part of me too.

And my story, and yours too, becomes something we can share with others who are somewhere along that tough journey of losing yourself and trying to figure who you are now. We bring each other strength because we have compassion and empathy and help heal each other. Because we understand the pain. And we’re not alone anymore.

Autism

Last Friday I subbed for the first time in a classroom for severely autistic kids. I want to say I was filled with compassion and felt like the work was meaningful, but mostly I just felt traumatized by the experience. These are children that will never be normal, that will always need help from others, that are far far far from anything resembling ‘normal.’ I felt for the parents that are filled with ambivalence for a child they both love and see as a burden. My heart was heavy. The day dragged, every little thing they did is an uphill challenge. Every single thing they did is painfully slow and difficult. It was exhausting to be around. I pitied them, found them to be pathetic, and felt ugly for feeling that way. I felt ashamed that I didn’t find the work meaningful and fun like the other women working in the classroom. I spent the weekend tormented by the experience and my thoughts and feelings.

Then I went back.

In the last 3 days I have spent in there I have been able to see these kids as more than their external behaviors. I have seen humor and subtly, frustration and anger. When they refer to autism as a spectrum, they are literally describing how unique each of the children are. Yes there are similarities, however each of the children presented a unique combination of interests, levels of interaction, intelligence and behaviors. Once I was no longer shocked by the strange sounds and movements they make and do, they became fascinating to me.

I need to understand to connect. And initially it was all so foreign, loud, strange, intrusive, that I just couldn’t process it. But it’s amazing how the strangest things can become normalized just by being exposed to it for a while. And just like that the noises they made, the arm waving and flapping, the rocking and body ticks, all faded into the background scenery, and I was able to really see them, who they are on the inside. The intelligence trapped inside a body that won’t cooperate. I also judged the program that is designed to have them restrict themselves in order to make the socially ‘normal’ feel more comfortable. I don’t have a background in any of this. And my experience amounts to a book I read (partially written by a severely autistic girl), some articles, and exactly 4 days in a classroom. But I have to wonder if all the things we were making them do was really for their benefit, or ours.

I started to really care about them, feel sad when they were sad, and feel joy when they experienced it. I started to bond, and then it ended – such is the experience of a substitute. And next week I go back to a classroom full of ‘normal’ kids. The teacher asked if I wanted to come back next time my school is on break. I’m actually considering it. I prefer to help students academically. I love watching them ‘get it.’ I feel joy when I help them understand. I know that’s my calling, my bliss, what feeds my light. And yet, this hidden world was a fascinating break from the daily grind, the rushing to and from minutia, the annoyances at mundane discomforts we take for granted. It has clarified and strengthened my gratitude for existence. I am taking them back into the rest of my life, carrying them in my heart, incorporating them into the full human experience of the world around me.

I knew that children like this existed, I just didn’t think about it in depth. I didn’t want to imagine the day by day and minute by minute struggles. I didn’t want to care. When I have seen them out in the community, I have felt uncomfortable and pity. But not anymore. I will never reduce them again. My eyes are open.