I haven’t had a ton of jobs in my 26 years, but the ones I do have currently can be mentally and physically exhausting on a weekly basis. The most difficult job I have ever had started on January 14, 2015. The day the most beautiful human being was born, my daughter. This job in particular has kept me alive, figuratively and literally, the last 3 years.
Pregnancy. I found out I was pregnant 4 days before my college graduation. CONGRATS! You have zero jobs lined up, you barely made it through college, and you think your parents are going to be livid. Every single one of those thoughts went through my head on May 13,2014. The moment I found out I was pregnant I started researching, not the latest car seats and strollers but to see if the meds I was on were okay to take while pregnant and the likelihood that I could pass on my diagnosis to her. I also looked up natural ways to treat depression while pregnant. I decided, without the guidance of my doctor, to take myself off my anti-depressants and mood stabilizers. Which led to problems and issues that not just affected me but everyone around me. I started withdrawing from the meds that aided in keeping me afloat most days. Withdrawing meant suicidal thoughts, fatigue, chronic bouts of vomiting, flu like symptoms, isolation and the list goes on and on and on…for about 4.5 months. I finally reached out to my doctor after verbally expressing the continuous suicidal thoughts that I did not want to plague me. We eventually found what worked best for me until I was able to give birth.
Isolated. Pregnancy was not a great experience for me…at all. Although I had my family’s and closet friends support, I still went through the entire experience alone. There wasn’t a day where I went without crying. Pregnancy in itself is already a stressful time and adding in factors I had ZERO control of did not make things any better. What did I do? Nothing. What could anyone else have done? Nothing more than they were already doing. I continued to isolate myself, neglect my mental health and dwell on the situations I could not change. At this moment in time I wouldn’t change anything the way it occurred, even taking myself off medicine. Silly, I know.
It helps me see how far I’ve come and where I am headed now. I am past the feelings of isolation and taking those experiences away from me might change where I feel today.
Mia was born weighing only 5 lbs 12 oz. She was healthy with a head full of hair and a cry I will never forget.
First night. The first night Mia was born my sister stayed the night in the hospital with us. We were exhausted and I have never felt an exhaustion like that in my entire life. Before one of my nurses left for the night she let us know that if I needed to call and have her taken to the nursery for a bit then a nurse would be right in to get her. That was a sigh of relief, or was it. Mia woke up screaming until I was able to nurse her and eventually fell back asleep…for 2 seconds. She continued crying and screaming, my sister tried to console her while I tried to rest and everything seem ineffective. The WAVE and I mean huge WAVE of emotions started to fluster me! My sister told me to call the nurse to see if she could go to the nursery for a bit. The nurse came in and told us no. I let her nurse know the previous nurse stated that was an option. She blew it off and walked out the room. The first words out of my sisters mouth were “It’s okay…it’s okay! It’ll be fine” My eyes were full of tears that started to drop on Mia’s blankie. My first thought was “This is the end”. The birth of a child should be one of the most happiest times in someones life, it was in fact the opposite for me.
Waves of anxiety came and went as I continued to feel alone and isolated in the journey of parenthood. There has been one piece of advice that I will always be grateful I received.
Selfish. Making time for myself, engaging in activities I enjoy, and not being afraid to ask for help when it’s needed/when I need a breather was something I had to learn how to actively do the past 3 years. Alone time can seem rare and to some selfish when you have a child. I’ve learned it’s okay to be selfish, healthily. As a mom your mind and body HAVE to come first in order for you to be an effective parent. Initially, I felt like a “bad mom” if I had would have someone keep her while I worked out, went to Target or even wanted to just write for a bit without having to share my pencil and paper. I would rather her see me healthy oppose to seeing mommy cry and be abrasive towards others, because my emotions are not under control.
Present. The last 3 years have been the biggest learning experience for me when it comes to my mental illness. I’ve learned that if I can survive pregnancy without a vital part of my treatment, medicine, that I can ultimately make it through anything life will continually throw my way. I’ve learned to be strong by myself and that if I don’t come first or care about my mental health/well-being I won’t be the best parent I need to be to my daughter.
It takes a village to raise a child and the village that has helped me raise Mia the last 3 years have been the glue that has also held me together. So, thank you.