Well I did promise to be honest and to document my journey through this season, so I figured an update was in order.
I have been having longer strings of good days lately, but it seems to make the bad ones that much worse. Two weeks ago I had one day where I felt as though I was completely back to normal, and I even said to my husband that I didn’t have any negative thoughts that day. We rejoiced and celebrated, only to be slammed with anxiety again a few days later. I know that setbacks don’t mean that I will NEVER get better, but on those days it is harder to be hopeful. My former self seems so lost in my mind that I wonder if I will ever get to be her again. In reality, I won’t. I won’t because even when I do get better, I know that I will be forever changed. I don’t know what that will look like, but I am trusting that the Lord will use it for good.
We are starting to get into a weekly routine, which is helpful in two ways. The main one is that things seem to be normalizing, the kids know what to expect and as a result everyone is happier. The second thing is that I can almost predict what days I will feel the worst, based on our schedule and I can try to work things out so that those times are not as bad. Mondays are the best – I am usually filled with hope for a better week at the beginning of the week, Matt doesn’t have to work most Tuesdays and right now we just enjoy Monday nights by staying in. Tuesdays Matt is home, which makes things somewhat easier, but the girls have gymnastics so that can be a bit stressful. Sometimes it is fun and I look forward to taking them and other times it is overwhelming. Wednesdays the little girls and I try to stay home during the day and clean up the house. We try to keep it more relaxed because of everyone being up late on Tuesday. Thursdays I am the most anxious because from Wednesday night until Friday night Matt is only home for a few short hours. Every other week I currently have a counseling appointment scheduled right now during that time. This seems to be the best time for me, because I am able to be the most open with my counselor about how I am truly feeling, whereas if we met on Monday I may be tempted to just pretend that everything is fine. Friday nights are my nights with Matt, I love them but they always go by too quickly. Weekends in general go back and forth, depending on how busy we are. Sometimes I am anxious and just want to stay locked inside away from the world, and other times my usually extroverted self requires being energized by getting out of the house. Sunday nights, however, are always the worst as I see the week ahead and wonder how it will go.
My thought processing has been getting better as I begin to have more control over my thinking patterns and have learned some ways to distract myself. Writing has been a fantastic release, and I have also begun journaling again in an attempt to begin to give myself even more freedom in my writing. I love writing on my blog, but I still need to be able to break down some of these thought patterns privately with myself.
As a family we have decided to put off any major decision making until the end of this year. Initially with our move we had a whole list of ideas and directions to take our family, most of which involved one or both of us going back to school, job changing, financial planning and a whole host of pretty stressful things. We have decided to stay where we are at this year and just focus on total healing. I am so thankful for my husband being willing to work as hard as he does at work, and then to come home and want to work equally as hard at getting me back to feeling like myself again. I have read more than a few accounts of postpartum illnesses causing tremendous issues within a marriage, some women even writing about how their husbands couldn’t take it anymore and left. I am so thankful that this season is bringing us closer. God is really using this experience to humble me and teach me how to let Matt be my covering and my protector. I find so much more comfort in bouncing ideas off of him or asking him for advice than I ever have.
I have also slowly begun to learn yoga and meditation as a way to gain more control over my thoughts. My meditation always involves prayer and attempting to focus on scripture, but also learning how to really capture my thoughts and push them away. I want to learn to counter them and replace them with more positive thoughts. It will take time, but it does seem to be helping at night before I go to sleep. I have also replaced my previous Xanax use at night with a liquid form of the herb Valerian root. (Please, if you are reading this and creating your own wellness plan, do not replace any medications or begin any supplementation without seeking advice from your doctor or medical expert.)
I am also finding more and more comfort in connecting with other women who have been through a similar experience. While I don’t currently have time to find a local support group, I have found support online through a website called Postpartum Progress. This site lists a ton of resources, as well as testimonies and support for women who are currently suffering from or who have suffered in the past from a postpartum illness. It is also a tremendous source of information for those who are close to someone else suffering and want to learn more or figure out ways to help. If you or someone you know if dealing with any type of postpartum illness, I would direct them to this source right away.
Sleep seems to be directly related to how I am feeling, and unfortunately there hasn’t been much of that going on around here. Between an almost 4 month old who is always hungry and growing rapidly (thank you Jesus!!) and a 20 month who is literally cutting 9 teeth at once, I have been up nearly every hour of the night for the last week or so. It has been exhausting, and sometimes when I am really tired, I find that fighting off the hopelessness is nearly impossible. I am so grateful to be able to stay home during this time.
However, if you look over the whole picture for the last 4 months, I am definitely on the road to getting better. I have moments each day that are perfectly normal. I am so thankful for mundane!! Haha! I am back to making dinner every night, I spend a lot of quality time with the girls, my relationship with my husband is doing great, I am learning to take things off my plate that are causing unnecessary anxiety and I am definitely a long way from where I was in the beginning of this whole experience. I have also come to terms with the fact that time is what it will take to fully heal, and that as long as I am doing all of the right things, in time this will all be behind us and I will be a better, stronger, more compassionate person because of it.
I welcome your continued prayers 🙂 And again – if anyone reading this has any specific or personal thoughts/questions that they don’t feel comfortable commenting with, you can email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org