Baby Blues that Won’t Leave

When you have a baby, you expect joy.

It feels silly now, when I look back on what I thought motherhood would be like. I suppose my warped sense of reality was aided in further unrealistic expectations thanks to the persona that nearly every mother (at least those on social media) portrays. You know what I mean, the moms who have it all together. They have the perfect milestone pictures, breastfeed their babies while looking like serene life-giving goddesses, and only feed their baby homemade and organic purées if they’re not following a BLW style. These moms have it all together. These moms know what they’re doing. They feel nothing but joy. They are living a picture perfect life in their picture perfect world and I’m left sitting on the outside looking in. I’m left longing to be them. Longing for their joy; even just an ounce.

I am not that mom.

I’m the mom who was hit full force by the baby blues. I mean, at least I thought I was until I started digging deeper; but that wasn’t until I accepted that the feeling of loneliness and unhappiness were not fading, no matter what.

My midwife and I had talked about my increased risk for postpartum depression (PPD), so I knew to be on the lookout. There were symptoms to watch out for and knowing how difficult I found being alone and pregnant in a foreign country, I figured I’d have to be more vigilant once my son was born. Knowing all of this didn’t really help though.

Sure, I’ve gone through depressing episodes in my life, but I had never been diagnosed with actual depression. I had never done much more than a bit of self-care to fix whatever ruts I had found myself in. I was lucky because when depression actually hits, it’s like a train could be barreling down the tracks and you just stand there. You almost want it to hit you because you don’t have the energy to face the task of moving. Add in some postpartum hormones and you have an incredibly dangerous cocktail.

There’s no easy way to “fix” PPD and as much as I’d love to just avoid it and pretend it doesn’t exist in my life, I can’t. It’s so much easier to post pictures of my happy baby and smile and nod when people ask if I love being a mother than it is to tell the truth. It’s so rare for someone to post the nitty-gritty of life without sugarcoating it and yet it’s so easy to look at those around you and feel as if you’re doing something wrong. I’m guilty of only posting the good. I’ve only posted happy pictures of my son and I focus on the good aspects of the day/month/milestone online. Do I share the fact that my child screams randomly for no reason? No. What about the fact that I hadn’t showered in three days? No. I do share my son smiling in his swing or making cute baby sounds. I share the good stuff and I bottle up the bad.

As mothers and parents in general, we have to be more honest. We have to stop pretending that life is nothing but a fairytale. We owe it to each other to share our battles along with our triumphs, the good with the bad. Your kid slept through the night? Awesome, share it! Were you unable to put him down for more than 2 hours the night before? Share that, too.

Tell the truth because moms like me need to hear it. I need to know that your perfectly dressed child who smiles in every picture can throw a fit at the drop of a hat, just like mine. I need to know that you have piles of laundry to do and you’re down to your last pair of clean underwear, just like I am. I need to know the bad so I can see the good and know that one day, I’ll be there too. One day these battles will be behind me and I’ll be facing new ones – hopefully with a bit more sleep.

-LP

If you or anyone you know is battling with depression, please seek the help of a medical professional. Additional resources can be found here. 

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Learn Your Limits

It’s difficult to offer support to someone when you need it yourself.

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I remember my nursing instructor telling us the age old saying “you cannot pour from an empty cup” and while I definitely felt it applied to my nursing career and studies, I’ve had a hard time applying it to my life in general. I’ve spent many days feeling overworked and at my breaking point; my cup has been running low and now, well… it’s empty. I suppose I have no one to blame but myself. I watched my cup’s contents slowly dwindle down to a few spare droplets until one day there was nothing left and I was left dumbfounded when I tried to pour over and over to no avail.

Life is difficult. It’s filled with trials and tribulations that leave us battered and with wounds that require licking. When you’re in a relationship, their worries and trials become your own and you want nothing more than to make their difficult days better. You feel a bit of responsibility with regards to how their lives are going, and if not a responsibility then at least a innate desire to make their days brighter. So if you’re focused on making their days brighter while yours feel oddly dim, how can you handle it? How can you make them smile when you feel drained?

Offering support to each other is essential, but remember that while offering support, accept that you may need some too. Learning your limits and knowing when to recognize a quickly emptying cup is essential in taking responsibility for your own self-care. Sure, you love your partner and you want their life to be filled with unending joy, but when you’re feeling unable to handle your own day-to-day, the best thing you can do is admit and accept that.

Some phases of life are more difficult than others and it’s not easy to accept that you’re not always able to keep your cup full without some extensive self-care. Taking a break and refilling your tank will allow you to make it through those phases; so take breaks. Care for yourself and remember that self-care is not always about bubble baths and pedicures; sometimes it requires looking at yourself critically and accepting that there are parts of you that desperately need to change. Change how you handle situations. Change how you allow any emotion to flood freely and without control. Change how you are more prone to give up and walk away than to push through the hard phases.

Sure, take the bubble baths, long walks, and pet your cat too, but don’t forget that caring for and about yourself requires more. Sometimes it requires you to look at your life from an outside viewpoint and give yourself the harsh truth; you can’t handle it all on your own and you cannot always take the burden of another person’s troubles either, no matter how incredibly important he or she is in your life. In order to have anything to pour into their cup, you’ve gotta keep yours full. So, take a moment to fill it before it runs dry.

-LP

I’m Broken. So What?

I might be damaged goods,
But we both know you love the way I’m broken.
I’ve seen your greedy eyes pour over my skin.
I see they way they sparkle.
I see how you long to sin.

Life’s been good to you baby,
So I’ll try not to be too bad.
But then again, when people ask why you’re broken,
You can point to the crack left behind by the girl that you once had.

To you, it’s where the rain pours in.
To me, it’s how the demons get out.
Neither of us know for certain,
But one of us is right.

I bet it’s me.

But then again, you never liked to gamble,
So then why’d you take a chance on me?
What’d you want to know, baby?
What’d you want to see?

Where is the Light at the End of the Tunnel?

If dawn could break, that’d be great.

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I can’t even begin to explain how many times I’ve heard the phrase, “it’s darkest before the dawn;” well if dawn could get here already, I’d really appreciate it; that bitch is always late.

I’ve been going through some crap lately and I have just been feeling super down in the dumps; it’s hard to pull yourself out of a hole when it feels like you’re insanely far below the surface. Life is scary and each day comes with new challenges we have to face. If you love and care for someone as they face some dark days, believe me, I know how hard it can be. Oftentimes  you’re not sure what to say or how to act and while I can’t begin to pretend that I know what every person needs, I can say I know what I need when the times are tough and the dawn seems like it’s an eternity away.

  1. Listen. It’s easier said than done, but honestly, listening to someone when they’re hurting is one of the best things you can do. I know you may feel as though you need to offer advice, but venting and expressing their frustrations can be enough. Give advice when advice is due. You’ll know when that is and when you do offer advice, do it in a way that they can appreciate. I know, I know; easier said than done, but just try. Maybe they’ll return the favor one day.
  2. Determine what it is they need from you. I’ll be the first to admit, when I’m upset, hurting, or scared, it’s hard for me to explain what it is I need. Looking back on the past few, terribly stressful and crappy days I can see what it is I needed; I needed support. When I’m scared or having a bit of a panic attack, I need to be told, not that it’ll all be okay, but rather that I’ll make it through regardless. We all need to hear different things at different times, so take a step back and look at the situation your person is facing to determine what it is they may benefit from.
  3. Offer a shoulder to lean on or a hand to hold. Sometimes when times are hard that physical feeling of someone being there is all that a person needs when facing trials. The warmth of another person is soothing and comforting to me; their simple presence is enough. It’s hard if you can’t be there physically for someone when they need it most; so tell them that you’d be there if you could and mean it.

I know my boyfriend has had to deal with be being super emotional and upset and while I don’t doubt our relationship in any way; it’s hard to not let fear and doubt creep into every aspect of my life. Finland is far away and I’m only human. If you’re trying to help someone through the difficulties they face, know that it won’t be easy, but you being there will mean the world.

You’ve made it through dark times before and you’ll do it again.

-LP

Being Strong is for the Weak: How to Handle the Bad Days

I don’t know about you, but sometimes life is just so damn hard.

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I can’t even begin to explain how many times I’ve felt like life is getting the best of me; let’s just say, it happens enough for me to be pretty damn sick of it. But, I must admit, life has been pretty damn near perfection lately. That being said, I totally understand how it feels to be overcome with the feelings of despair and hopelessness. I’ve been there and I know how hard it can be to look on the bright side. Hell, sometimes there just isn’t a bright side!

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, unhappy, or just plain depressed, here are some tips for when the wind just won’t blow away the storm clouds that hover above:

Change it up. I know, I know. Change is basically the last thing you want to do when life is kicking you right in the (lady) balls, but if what you’re doing is not generative, does not make you feel happy, and gives you no sense of joy whatsoever, STOP DOING IT. Plain and simple.

Leave toxic people, thoughts, and situations in the dust. I mean it. If you’re around people who make you feel like crap or are just super negative, it’s not going to help you to feel any better about your situation. You might think that their negativity won’t rub off on you, or that you’re already so damn depressed that nothing can make it worse; you’re wrong. Even if you don’t realize it, their attitudes affect you. People and our surroundings truly affect us in unimaginable ways, so why not surround ourselves with positivity and a support system that is both generative and affects us in a positive way?!

Respect yourself enough to walk away from anything that no longer serves you, grows you, or makes you happy.

– Robert Tew

Give yourself the “OK” to be sad. You don’t have to be strong every moment of every day. You’re not a robot! And if you are then, hey there, you snazzy robot you, how the bleep bleep bloop is it goin’? Anyway, you’re human (I think) so allow yourself to be vulnerable and accept the fact that being broken is part of life.

As always, if you’re feeling blue or you need someone to talk to, do not hesitate to reach out.

You’ve got this!

-LP

How Did I Get Here?

Honestly, I’d like to know.

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I just can’t believe that my life has gotten to this point; a point in which my heart is just so full. I truly lucked into this life. You know how people always talk about that one pivotal moment in their lives when everything changes? Yeah, I’m having that. Well I had it, but it’s still in the process of changing. It’s just crazy.

It’s crazy to think about where I was almost a month ago. What I was doing, who I was with, how I was feeling, where life was taking me. Honestly, I wish my old self knew what amazingness was coming my way. It’s mind boggling thinking about all the days I felt lonelier and less happy than I should have felt. Had I known what was coming my way, I would have squashed those damn thoughts like a big ugly spider. And I’m afraid of spiders, so that’s some serious shit.

I’m not afraid anymore. I’m not anxious like I used to be. I don’t feel depressed or like this unimaginable weight is crushing my chest. I feel free. I feel loved. I feel at peace. I’m not saying that I don’t still have moments of “oh shit what’s happening,” because I do. But I love those moments because they lead me to you.

One day these days will be a distant memory. One day we’ll tell our grandkids about the whirlwind love we found ourselves wrapped up in. We’ll tell them to trust the feeling, that the proof is in the pudding. We’ll tell them to just dive into a love when you know it’s pure and true. One day, when we’re old and gray, you’ll be rocking beside me; you’ll look to me and say “24m” and it’ll happen all over again.

-LP