I Am Not Alone and Neither Are You

At the end of my last therapy appointment, my therapist of almost three years said to me, “so do you know Katherine Stone? I thought of you when I saw that she is behind the blog Postpartum Progress. She was the MC of the conference on PMDs that I attended last week.”

I smiled. Big.

“I do know Katherine Stone. As in I know her personally.”

“I thought there was a good chance of that,” she said. “She seems so inspiring.”

I thought about that word “inspiring” as I drove home. I also thought about when I first “met” Katherine. I was a hot damn mess when I was directed to Postpartum Progress by some people on twitter who read my very first post admitting that after nine months of suffering, I got sought help.

I combed through the entire site. I found stories and resources. I found help.

I think I officially met Katherine via twitter. When I was pregnant with Charlie and scared of a relapse of PPD, she was there assuring me. She sent me names of local people I could call. She checked in on me after Charlie was born and I went silent on social media. When things weren’t fine, she was there.

But it wasn’t just for me. She is there for every other woman struggling.

I met her five years ago when Postpartum Progress was much smaller and it’s reach confined to mostly women I “knew” via social media and PPD groups.  Now, five years later, it’s expanded to something so much larger than I can even wrap my mind around.

Katherine did that.

She is now known nation-wide and has been on CNN and other national news outlets.

And yet, she is still Katherine. She is still real and easy to approach and hilarious and passionate.  In fact, I think she is more passionate now than she was five years ago…if that is even possible.

She’s so big my own therapist is asking me if I’ve heard of her.

I admit that sometimes I figure she is so busy with all her amazing work, she probably doesn’t think much about me or remember me, but then she makes a funny comment on Facebook or tweets me and I think, “She’s still Katherine.”

I have given her name and website as a resource to moms so many times over the years, and I can still say “Here is my friend, Katherine’s information,” when I give it. Because she is not just a bigger than life public figure fighting for mom’s rights and health, she is my friend.

And I’m so proud of her. Proud to know her. Proud to have been a part of something that is so much larger than I am.

The letter Katherine wrote me in the collection of letters Miranda (Finding Walden) sent me after I had Charlie

The letter Katherine wrote me in the collection of letters Miranda (Finding Walden) sent me after I had Charlie

She helped me realize I am not alone, nor that I have to feel so isolated. I have become a vocal advocate not just for postpartum mood disorders, but for mental health in general.

I suffer from depression, anxiety, OCD, and PTSD and I am a great mom, a loving wife, and a successful teacher and writer. I laugh and smile and have wonderful friends.

I take medication and see a therapist and I love my life.

It’s possible to have a rich, wonderful life and have a mental illness/mood disorder. Katherine helped me realize that.

I am forever grateful to her and so very proud of this milestone of TEN YEARS of Postpartum Progress and kicking stigma ass.

Congratulations on Ten Years, Katherine!

Congratulations on Ten Years, Katherine!

Please visit Postpartum Progress if you or someone you know if struggling.

Blogging for Mental Health

I felt like I was outside myself, watching what was happening. It was like a dream–a nightmare, really.

I wanted to just stop myself.

But also like in a nightmare, I couldn’t. The rational, sane part of me was frozen, only able to watch in horror as the crazy came out.

I yelled.  A lot.

I was so filled with rage.

Cortney walked very softly around me for months, fearing that one false move would send me off into a blind, white rage from hell.

I bluntly told him he sucked. I told my mom she was unhelpful and ridiculous.

I was a bitch.

My insides would start churning and winding and the only way to release all the pressure was to rage at someone. I wanted to keep my mouth shut, but the more I tried, the worse the rage was.

Cortney didn’t read my mind, so he was constantly berated.

I didn’t know what I wanted, but I expected him to not just know, but do all of these things on an imaginary list that I hadn’t written yet. I would realized I wished the bathroom was a different shade of yellow and somehow I was so SO pissed that he had not anticipated that and painted the bathroom to appease the rage monster inside of me.

I wanted so badly to just be good and normal and happy, but the more I tried, the worse everything fell apart.

I didn’t want anyone to know about my wound-up insides. I wanted to be better, so I thought I could pull the whole “fake it ’til you make it” routine.

But my insides got worse.

I was crying a lot. I couldn’t control myself at all and I was afraid I was going to hurt my husband.

Every time the baby cried, which was often since Eddie had colic, something in me began to boil. I wanted to shake the baby, but I did NOT want to shake the baby.  So instead I lashed out at Cortney.

Until one day I broke down and realized something was broken in me.

That was the start of my healing.

I got help.

If you think you or someone you love may be battling depression or anxiety, let them know they are not alone. They can get better.

For a list or resources for mental health including postpartum mood disorders and other illnesses, see sites such as Your Mind, Your Body, BonBon Break’s List of Resources, and Postpartum Progress.

I'm Blogging for Mental Health.

filling space

I fell asleep on the couch Sunday afternoon after struggling with more GI bug issues. Apparently it’s a county-wide issue. I was blessed with it not once, but twice. Awesome.

Anyway, I fell asleep on the couch Sunday.

I always lie on my side with my legs bent at the knee.

Tucked in that space that my bent legs make, Eddie snuggles himself in and under my blanket to watch a movie quietly.

That is where he always fits, into the space I leave open.

If I am in the chair, he somehow finds his way up there too, even though he has long outgrown being two in that chair. But I can’t kick him out. This chair is where “we” began.

And so he fills any space that is left. His long legs sprawled over my lap, his head finding my shoulder.

When I put him to bed, we read a chapter book–right now it’s Winnie the Pooh. A chapter a night. Sometimes two if he asks really nice because I can’t say no to just one more chapter.

Once the light goes off, and our chatting stops, his breath becomes heavy and regular and he rolls into me, again filling the space.

When I am sitting on the couch, so is he…up against me so close there is no room for space. It’s instinctive to him to fill up any space between us.

When he was an infant, there was a lot of space between us, so much so that I sought help.

That was four years ago.

He was almost a year old.

I spent his whole first year putting distance between us because I was sick. But I didn’t have GI issues. Nope, I had brain issues.

Medication and therapy helped but it was a long road.

Now each time I noticed him right by my side, I smile because he doesn’t remember. He has no recollection of our hard start. What he knows is that his mom is his safe place–his protection from bears in his nightmares, as he says.

What he also doesn’t know is that he is my safe place too.

Every time I look at him I think of how far I have come and how I am so SO lucky to have him as my boy.

a heart of conflicts

I can feel my anxiety creeping into the cracks and creases of my brain and heart and being again.

I tried to relax over break.

I had sixteen days off from work.

For the most, part it was nice.  I mean, I didn’t have to get up at 5:30am which meant I didn’t have to go to bed at 9:00pm.  Cort also had off from school, so he was home in the evenings.

I didn’t have to grade papers…ok, yes I did, but I put it off until the last day.

I didn’t have to do lesson plans.

I could take naps and read and do my needlepoint.

When Eddie wasn’t all up in my space.  Which was pretty much only during nap or when Cort was home.

I found that getting any organization done or time to just myself was impossible.  By the end of the two weeks, Eddie was very needy for other kids and organized crafts and play time, and I was ready to talk to someone about something other than dinosaurs and mickey mouse.

Don’t get me wrong, the cuddles and the book-reading and the hilarious saying Eddie has picked up made my day each and every day.

And his bed head in the morning?  Forget it.  I giggled each day when he would call, “mooooommmmyyyyyy!!!  Get up!  Sun up!” and I would walk into a little mini-blond ‘fro smiling at me.

But in between time?  When I wanted him to play by himself or watch TV so I could organize the top of the fridge or empty the dishwasher or take everything out of a cupboard to clean and organize?  He was suddenly all about his mommy.

I get this.  I do.

But after two weeks I was ready to just go back to work and feel productive and do “grown up” work.

Last night as I was hoping to fall asleep early, my mind started swirling.  I was home for two weeks.

In less than nine weeks, I will be off from work for 24 weeks.

24 weeks away from “grown up” work.

24 weeks with a toddler and a newborn.

My maternity leave with Eddie was 12 weeks and I ended up shipping him off to daycare once a week just to try to feel like myself and have Katie time.

It wasn’t enough and my spiral into postpartum depression got a bit out of control.

I am afraid.

I am anxious.

Two weeks with a toddler who was really quite well behaved and loving was enough.

Did I just type that?

What is wrong with me?  As a mother, how do I not want to be with my cutie pie funny little kid all the time?

How can I not look forward to time away from work?

From the time Charlie is born until school gets out at the end of May, Eddie will be going to daycare full time to allow me to get on some sort of schedule with Charlie.

But after that?  For the summer?

Me and the two boys.

That should be exciting, but instead my hands just started sweating and tears sprang to my eyes as I typed that.

Maybe it’s because I also have a horrible paranoia of leaving the house with my kid(s).  Not because I think we or they are going to get hurt.  It’s just so mentally and physically exhausting for me.  It’s like the idea that I will have to herd cats.

I have been told over and over that it is my anxiety disorder and my depression that are causing me to feel this way and to have these thoughts and that I am not a bad mother.

But I feel horrible.


What kind of good mother feels like puking when she thinks of an extended time home with her own kids?  What kind of mom wants to hold onto her kids and get rid of them at the exact same time?

I miss Eddie fiercely when we are away from each other.  It’s like a piece of me is missing.

But when we are together, I just want someone else to be there.  Or to take him. Or something.

How can these two very intense yet opposing feelings be present at the same time?

And how am I going to make it 24 weeks with all this?  And the 9 weeks in anticipation of the 24 weeks?

How can I make this tightening in my chest and burning in my eyes go away?