Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Bad Mother

TRIGGER WARNING

I promised myself I wouldn't do this.

It was one year ago today that I was full of hope, writing exuberantly about passion and lightning and the fire in my veins. I put the bottle in the back of the cupboard, determined not to open it again. I was so proud of myself.

It was easy at first. I wondered if I'd ever needed that bottle at all. Then there was blood on the toilet paper six weeks into my first pregnancy after losing my twins, and the anxiety lunged out of its hiding place and wrapped its claws around my throat. I can't breathe. But I don't touch the bottle, because there's nothing wrong with me: there really is something to fear.

Yet we make it through. Through the life-threatening complication and the ominous test results. Through the near financial ruin and subsequent marital implosion. Somehow I end up sitting in a hospital bed with a perfectly healthy baby in my arms and my husband and daughter by my side. And maybe I kept having to leave work because I couldn't stop crying, and I haven't been sleeping more than a few hours every night and I can't feel my fingers or toes, but it doesn't mean anything. These aren't warning signs.

Home from the hospital, the old thoughts begin to drift across the back of my mind in a creeping, deadly fog. The shiny sharp edges of the kitchen knives and the pulse in my wrist. The speeding car and the ease of stepping into the street. Getting on a plane and never coming back. Of course these things would never happen. My children hold me tethered by love, even if I scream at them every day because of the whining, crying, whining crying God why won't they just shut up!

I put the baby down and walk away. My husband has been gone for 13 hours. When he comes home two hours later, our daughter is slumped in her high chair, having sobbed herself to sleep. Our son is in his swing, screaming hoarsely. He's been crying for a long time. I'm sitting on the floor staring vacantly at the wall, when my husband shakes my shoulder and I numbly turn to meet his worried eyes.

The next morning I walk slowly over to the cupboard and take out the little bottle of pills. I'm broken in some way that I can't fix, and I have to do this. Because there's always a next time.

53 comments:

  1. Wow. I imagine this was difficult to write. But, I got so much of it. I got it. Know that you are not alone. I too am tethered by my children's love and my heart goes out to you for your loss. Just believing I had lost my son this year, the blood on the bathroom floor, was terrifying. I also missed so many days of work this last year due to anxiety. You are a strong, brave, inspiring woman. Know that.

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    1. Horribly difficult. I want to delete it, but I need to remember exactly how I felt when I'm tempted to stop taking my medication again. It's scary to think I may be on Zoloft for the rest of my life, but this post is scarier.

      Thanks for your support; it helps to know I'm not alone.

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    2. There is no shame in taking medication. I take three different meds daily for my bipolar. I need them. And why should I be judged? No one judges a diabetic for needing to take medication. I don't really see the difference. Best to you!

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    3. I agree. I guess I had fooled myself into thinking I didn't really need it or it was just a placebo effect or something. After I stopped taking them I noticed the increase in anxiety right away, but it took awhile for the depression to build back up to this level, so I thought I had it beat. And I thought I could manage it with exercise alone. Apparently not.

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  2. "My children hold me tethered by love."
    Works for me.

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    1. Absolutely.They are such a blessing.

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  3. having babies, being a mom, being the responsible parent home with small children and no break in sight - those things can be terribly overwhelming. they can take you to dark places that we don't want to look at or think about. but if the zoloft lifts you up, it's a blessing, not a curse. imagine if there was no form of assistance available at all. it's good you have a two kids to love and a husband who comes home at night. i don't know how single moms do it on those bad days.

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    1. Yes! I have such respect and sympathy for single parents now that I have kids of my own. I'm thankful too that I have such a wonderful, supportive husband, because many women have a spouse who isn't a partner.

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    2. Yes! I have such respect and sympathy for single parents now that I have kids of my own. I'm thankful too that I have such a wonderful, supportive husband, because many women have a spouse who isn't a partner.

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  4. There is no shame in taking whatever help you need to make yourself whole. I am sure that this was incredibly hard to share, and I am in awe of the strength you show.

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    1. It was hard to share. I guess I just wish it would go away, but I've accepted that isn't the case for now at least, and I need help.

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  5. Brilliant. And heartbreaking. And chilling. Such a well done piece. You should be proud that you shared your truth...I have no doubt that it will help people reading.

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    1. Thank you. It would be great if it helps someone else feel less alone or pushes someone to get help who needs it too.

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  6. Wow. You are so brave to write this. And brave to get help - because lots of people living with mental illness aren't able to look in the right places for strength.

    I hope it helps that we are reading your words, here with you... I've now been part of the babyloss blogosphere too for a little over a year, and found it can be a pretty amazing thing, knowing people are listening.

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    1. Interesting. I've been feeling bad that I'm so weak that I can't do it on my own. Thanks for giving a different perspective.

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  7. I'm so very sorry about your twins. My heart breaks for you. I am glad you have a good support system. There is nothing wrong with taking Zoloft. It's kind of a wonder drug if it means you don't have to feel that way. Amazing post. I wish it were fiction.

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    1. I wish it were fiction too! But I'm feeling a lot better already, which is part of the problem. After awhile I forget how bad it was and start to think I was just being dramatic and I don't really need to take any drugs. Maybe that will be true someday, but not for now.

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  8. The strength of this post, and the strength of the writer, is inspiring. Be kind to yourself.

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    1. Thank you. I'm learning to be kinder.

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  9. I think this post will resonate with quite a few people. I know it did with me. I'm sorry for your loss and what you've been through. I hope the medication helps and you can make peace with taking it.

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    1. I feel a million times better already, and being able to care properly for my precious kids makes it all worthwhile.

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  10. Hey! You've got this! I just know you do. Life is both hard and wonderful when your children are little and needy, and then it gets better, truly. Hormones are evil. Don't let them get the best of you. You're a good mama and a good writer and lots of us care about your outcome, or at the least we selfishly want to keep reading you. Stay with us.

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  11. I'm so glad you have something that *will* take away those scary impulses. I feel that if people start talking openly about mental health it will just make it easier for those who are not yet ready to do so. Of course, you are the brave one by sharing such a raw experience. Again, so happy that you're feeling better. And really, after what you went through, who wouldn't need Zoloft?

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    1. It's all frame of reference - I kept telling myself the stuff that happened wasn't that bad, because think of all the people who have had even worse experiences. I need to learn to accept my own stress level for what it is.

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  12. What a very real look at what this feels like. I think people that don't "get" it should read this. Really well done!

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  13. So moving and real. I have never been in that place, but I felt like I had a glimmer of understanding through this. Well done!

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    1. Oh, I forgot...Good job, Rowmie :)

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    2. Thanks! Yes, we have a great row, don't we? Lots of variety; I love it!

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  14. this was tough for me to read because i've been there... not too long ago either. ttp://finallymom.blogspot.com/2012/06/normal.html
    i'm on Prozac now and don't really see getting off it anytime soon. i think that makes us Good mothers- realizing something is not right and doing something to fix it before it's too late.
    ::hugs::

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    1. I went back and read your post, and it made me cry (in a good way). Every day I feel a little better and more OK with taking medication. I had forgotten what normal felt like. Thanks for sharing your post.

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  15. I'm proud of you for taking that pill, and for sharing about it openly here. That is hard stuff. But it doesn't make you less than in any way. It just means that you are strong enough to seek out the help you need when you need it. And that is a wonderful thing.

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    1. I'm coming around to see it that way - thank you.

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  16. I love that your children tether you but I do wish this was fiction and not how you felt. I'm so very sorry for your loss which I can't begin to fathom. You do what you have to do to take care of yourself. It is not a defeat but a victory that you have a way to get things straight inside. I'm happy to hear you have support. We all need it desperately. Big hug to you, girl!

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    1. Thanks Gina - I appreciate your kind words.

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  17. I am bipolar. I need those pills. Needing them does not mean that you are a bad mother. All of us are broken in some way. Take care of yourself. You are worth it.

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    1. Yes - it's easy to forget that everyone has their problems behind their public face.

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  18. I don't know this level of needing help, but I know something is off. I know I needed help. I'm glad you sought it, glad I sought it, and wish it were that easy for everyone feeling these urges, this disconnect, this if I only take one more step I'll be in front of the train and it'll all be over feeling. What is it that makes us want so desperately to believe we don't need help, that we don't need the bottle? We are conditioned to believe asking for help is wrong or weak or some other ridiculous bullshit. But I guarantee you this: you and your family are better for your willingness to open that cabinet door and reach in.

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    1. So much better. I only wish I had acknowledged it sooner.

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  19. First, this is a gorgeously written piece. Bravo! Second, to me there is nothing more courageous than asking for and taking in help. And when that help looks like little blue or yellow or white pills, taking them and walking forward is the most loving, brave action you can take for yourself and your family. I'm so sorry for your loss and for your pain. I hope writing this was cathartic for you. I know reading it was cathartic for me.

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    1. Writing is like letting the poison out of a wound for me, so I can heal cleanly. So yes, very cathartic and I'm glad it was for you as well.

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  20. Wow! This took a lot of guts. I appreciate your honesty and bravery. I've had similar experiences and this really resonated with me. Nicely done.

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    1. It was hard to hit that "publish" button, but I'm glad I did. I've been surprised at how many people saw something familiar in my experience.

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  21. Many hugs, just many, many hugs.

    I see myself in some of this, but not a self I'm ready to acknowledge. Nor a self that anyone else sees yet, either.

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    1. It was hard to look myself in the mirror of this post, but I needed to do it. Thanks for the virtual hugs - much appreciated.

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  22. Extremely powerful and honest writing. Difficult to share, I am certain, but I am sure that this has helped someone else going through the same thing. Take care of yourself.

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    1. Sometimes the hardest things to write about are the ones most worth sharing. Thanks for your thoughts.

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  23. This was such a raw, moving post. I could feel your pain, your loss, your inner struggle, all of it. Beautiful writing.

    There is no shame in medicating yourself to improve your quality of life. I think that makes you a wonderful mother.

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    1. Thank you so much. I don't judge others for using medication; not sure why I'm so hard on myself about it.

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Lend me some sugar!