This week was going to be focused on starting our "Little Barn Free Library" (a Little Free Library that looks like our barn), as well as planting tomato seedlings. It didn't quite work out that way.
How it did work out was with me throwing, no, hurtling, a box of shells (macaroni and cheese) on the kitchen floor, screaming, and standing shaking, grinding my jaw, crying, and thinking that stabbing my hand with a kitchen knife would feel better than what I was feeling inside. "Why is mommy laughing"? asked my son, having never witnessed sobbing and mistaking it for his mother laughing.
This was the low point of the year - definitely of 2021, but I am thinking of "year" in terms of when Covid started back in March 2020 until now. Otherwise, with two toddlers, no steady employment, an ever-shrinking bank account, and all the restrictions on current life, we have done pretty well considering. This week, however was a breaking point.
What I realize more and more is not only that the postpartum period can last YEARS after a baby is born, not to mention two babies, 21 months apart, but also that all the extra anxiety, fear, and loneliness of this global pandemic has been HARD.
What I am exceptionally (even more now if possible), thankful for is that during my well, let's call it a "mini-breakdown", my husband was able to pick up the phone and 30 minutes later, I got a call from an AMAZING postpartum family physician therapist who assessed and treated me right then over the phone FOR FREE. This is part of the incredible service provided by the Women's Mental Health Clinic. I have been very fortunate to have sessions with the same therapist since before my daughter was born 16 months ago. Therefore, she also knows my history of pregnancy and postpartum anxiety, as well as our family context (moving countries, unemployment, two babies, covid anxiety etc.). Officially she diagnosed our entire family with "cabin fever" with a capital "C", and me with rage caused by hormones and isolation (not to mention lack of sleep and constant screaming from my absolutely beautiful, wonderful, teething, and frustrated baby girl).
This brings me to the title of this blog, which involved a lovely walk in the sunshine with my three year old son to the pharmacy down the street, where I picked up a prescription for Ativan. There is a time when I would have felt embarrassed, potentially a bit ashamed, for needing the help of medication. Not this day. What I felt was supported and thankful. With no hesitation I took the Ativan as prescribed and happily and calmly spent the rest of the afternoon sitting with my kids playing around me and my wonderful, and a bit shaken, husband cooking dinner.
The point of this is to say, these days it feels more and more that there is a collective struggle of the times. A year of constant change, fear, and uncertainty has started to wear and is coming out in many different ways for everyone. This blog is a creative outlet for me, which my mind has struggled to find in the years since I left work to stay at home with my kids. I am sure it seems from the activities we do and the pictures we post that everyday is wonderful - and I can't lie, many days absolutely are, but there is also struggle, anxiety, and asking for help. This week more than usual.
Tonight I feel good and happy to be writing again. With help I have been able to get four full nights of sleep and have also made a point (as planned with my therapist) to get out everyday since and see family / friends. Both of these things have made a world of difference for everyone in our family. A taste of real life again. "Through the anxiety" is now the strategy and paying attention to when isolation due to fear starts to (inevitably) sneak back in. This, while being mindful of healthy risks - and importantly the risk to health (in every aspect) of not getting out into the real world.
We are all suffering right now in one way or another and there is healing in reaching out, accepting help, and sharing the reality of our collective human experience. This is reality. I am thankful everyday and grateful for the things we have. I am also looking forward to a solid sleep tonight with a little bit of extra help.