I have not had a panic attack in two months. I cannot remember the last time I had a nightmare; and when I have, it didn’t render me incapacitated the following morning.
It has been years. Every time I would start to feel like a version of myself, I found myself pregnant. I could not see that at the time. I wanted my babies and the pregnancy. I figured I was strong enough to battle the post partum depression that accompanied it.
“I’ll just start Zoloft at delivery. And then, I’ll be back to myself in 4-6 weeks.”
I lost myself.
Worse after each pregnancy. Strangely worse after my girls. The fog seemingly endless after my fifth. The Zoloft didn’t work. The Paxil didn’t work. The coping mechanisms didn’t help. I just could not implement them. I did not have the strength. I did not know how to make it through the day. I would just try to make it through each moment. I was questioning myself on a regular basis.
Constant panic. Fear. Uncertainty. Guilt.
“Maybe I am just a miserable person. Maybe this is who I am now. Maybe I am not meant to experience any joy.”
And, then I didn’t want to believe it.
I had to face all my fears of stigma. The anxiety that provokes in itself can be debilitating. I had to decide that my mental health was more important than what people would think of me going to a psychiatrist. I have a psychiatrist.
Nearly a year later…
I surrendered myself to the idea that I cannot control my depression or my anxiety.
Thinking happy thoughts did not change my depression.
Choosing joy did not cure my overwhelming symptoms.
Thinking positive did not soothe my weary mind.
I take medication. I have found that it keeps me even. I still find my husband hysterical and motherhood overwhelming.
But I can recover.
I do not stay in the depths of darkness for months on end. I do not succumb to the hopelessness. I am able to differentiate better between my dark illness and bright reality.
It is still there.
I often find myself wondering if it is in fact the medications making me this way. If I actually am that terrified person buried in black holes. That feeling better is a lie masked by medications.
But, a fog has been lifted. Thanks to Jesus. And counseling. And medication. And yoga. And exercise. And diet changes. And support from family and friends.
I am a work in progress.
But, my smile is real.
There is life after post-partum. There is light after dark. There is hope after helplessness.
And for that, I am grateful.
**If you would like to read more on my journey, click here.**