Snow and writing

Snow-and-Writing This week has been full of snow and writing. I haven't posted anything to the blog this week because I've been busy writing for Postpartum Progress since I'm a member of the Warrior Mom Editorial Team. If you haven't already seen my posts via my social media promos, I'd love for you to check them out. {Postpartum Psychosis Doesn't Equal Failing as a Mom & Psychosis During Pregnancy and What It Taught Me are the titles of my two posts.} When I hear the song from Frozen it makes me think of that time in my life when I was having babies and not taking medication in order to protect them.

Seems so long ago, but it hasn't even been four years since my last episode. Back then I worked to hide what I had been going through. I've matured since then and I now know - from the tweets, comments and emails I receive from people who have read my words - that I made the right decision. Speaking out helps so many people. I'll never know how many, but my heart is content with my decision to become an advocate.

It's been a long week here with Monday being MLK Day and the little man off from school, then the snowstorm on Tuesday which led to school being cancelled for the rest of the week. I've been trying not to tear all my hair out from the "I'm-at-the-end-of-my-rope" feeling due to having to entertain a 3 and 5-yr old for four days straight. We're all getting on each other's nerves from being cooped up in the house all week. I say cooped up because for the most part I despise winter and only go out in negative wind chill weather when absolutely necessary.

Like for my therapist appointment yesterday. Couldn't ask for better timing.

I've been working on a ton of stuff for the show in May. Hard to believe it's only four months until we take the stage. Audition slots are starting to fill up and my Association Producer Anne Marie and I are thrilled to see everything coming together. If you know anyone you you think would be fabulous for the show - I'm talking creative, funny, inspirational, energetic - please have them sign up for a spot before they're gone.

I recently accepted a new writing assignment for an organization doing a tremendous amount of inspirational, educational, critical work surrounding mental health awareness. I'm honored to have been approached by them and cannot wait to share my first post with you. It's a once-a-month gig, which is definitely manageable and plus, it's an opportunity I couldn't turn down. {Sorry I broke my promise, Maria - but this is worth it!}

So yeah, a lot going on. But if I've learned anything over these last few months it's that the work eventually gets done. When the kids are calling for me to get down on the carpet and play "picnic" or board games with them, I listen. I close the laptop and grab hold of the quality time. Or when exhaustion sets in, we snuggle up on the couch and watch a movie together. Life is good. Better than good, actually. It's pretty damn amazing. (Including the occasional teachable parenting moment, which I wrote about for recently.)

   "If you are always trying to be amazing, you will never know how amazing you can be."                                                             - Maya Angelou

One sunset memory at a time

1-WP_001463 I patted her diaper-padded bottom as we ascended up the stairs to the hall bath last night, her brother a few steps ahead of us. She playfully peered through the rungs of the banister and smiled at her reflection in the foyer mirror. I sang a song of marching up the steps to move her along. It only added to the silliness of parading into the bathroom for tub time, her feet happily marching along to the beat of the song.

I am so lucky, I was thinking to myself.

You see, each time I walk the kids up the stairs to tackle bathtime, I can't help but think back to the night I took my son up for his bath at 18 months old, his baby sister a mere poppy seed in my belly, and how I could feel that I was losing my mind. Thoughts were racing through my head, but yet at the same time, there was a calmness about it all. He was completely oblivious to the whole thing, of course. He climbed up the stairs and I paused to look out the window above our front door, the clouds swirled up in the sky a hazy magnificent sunset display, colors so vibrant they looked as if they were burning with the secret of heaven.

We sang songs in the tub filled with bubbles and toys, and as we did this, I began to feel like the world was ending. The planes soaring over our house because of our close proximity to the airport, pushed my anxiety over the edge and I started shaking a bit, the walls were beginning to cave in on me. I quickly and methodically bathed my little man and then wrapped him up and dressed him in warm jammies, smelling his freshly washed skin and hair with deep whiffs as I read him a story, sung him a song and tucked him in his crib for the night. I remember thinking I would probably come get him and bring him into our bed once my husband and I went to sleep for the night. Given it was probably our last night on Earth, I felt it was fitting we should be together as a family in a cozy bed at least.

Hard to believe I made it out of the hospital after a week's stay, and recovered from that episode within a few months under my doctor's close supervision. I thank God every day that we had a healthy baby when our little girl was born 8 months later, and it never ceases to amaze me that I was given the job of being their mom every day. I'm a good mom. It's just that I have a past that is speckled with bits of sickness and recovery, and I often am reminded of those times. For me, they are simple reminders for me to be grateful for my health and my family. These times I remember, these old dusty memories of what happened when I became manic and how I became well again, they make up my story and they inspire me to keep on writing.

One day at a time. Or, one sunset step up the stairs to the bathroom for tub time, at a time.

Psych ward socks

I have a confession to make. I still wear the hideously ugly, ill-fitting, but somehow comfy, psych ward socks. Weird, right?

They are grey and have those no-slip grippy things on the bottom just like my kids' socks and they bunch up awkwardly at the ankles. But yet I still have them in my sock drawer and I still reach for them when I go to pick out a pair of socks.

You would think that they would bring back horrible, terrible, awful memories of being locked up in a mental hospital against my will. Taken away from my babies so that I could get well. But that's just it: I needed to be there. To get well. So I guess that is what I think about when I put them on. How I got well when I wore them.

I can remember the last time I was in the hospital and my Dad and husband came to visit one evening. I don't know what it was that I said, but I can remember clear as day my husband saying to me, "You could ask them for another pair of those cozy socks"  and it makes me smile.

I did ask the nurse's station for another pair, and I must have asked for a third and fourth pair while I was there because there are four pairs of those pathetically ugly pairs of socks in my sock drawer: three grey and one blue. Would've been nice to have a pink pair, you know, for a flash of color in all the blah neutral.

Sometimes when I'd run out to grab the mail in the afternoon while the kids napped, I would worry that the neighbors would see me in my psych ward socks and then they'd just know. That was then. But I am starting to not care anymore. And it feels good.

Besides, how would a crummy pair of grippy hospital socks tip them off?

I have decided to make some changes and move towards putting my real name and face on this blog. If I am ever going to help erase stigma, I cannot hide behind an anonymous blog. That just doesn't make any sense whatsoever.

A good friend of mine who I recently trusted to read my blog sent me an email saying that she thinks that it will be an amazing resource for people that are going through what I went through and are also scared to get pregnant.  She went on to tell me in an email that she thinks I am an inspiration for people in the community because I am living proof that someone can manage the disease, have healthy children and an amazing, fulfilling life. She made me start to realize that it is important that I am trying to do what I'm aspiring to do one day through this blog. And I believe a big part of that is showing my true identity. I owe her a great deal of thanks for her encouraging support. It means so much to me.

But I'm not ready to do it all at once. Bear with me. Call it suspense, if it makes it more fun.  Call me a scaredy cat. I'll just call it me being nervous. Whatever. I'll get there.

Let's start with this. Baby steps. Me in my psych ward socks this morning.