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Saturday, September 9, 2017

The honest truth



One of my goals this year has been to get back into writing my feelings and giving myself an outlet to share. Sharing has always been very therapeutic for me. I makes me feel like I might be helping another mother who feels like me and alone. Maybe knowing someone else is not perfect will make her survive the day.
I have been going back and looking at former blog posts, and I found an unpublished post. It is raw and I don’t recognize that woman’s voice. Yet it is me. That person still lives inside me fighting me everyday. She is the demon of depression and anxiety. She is that little voice on dark days that tells me I am not enough. She is the woman that tried to kill me 2 years ago. 
Two years ago I had a mental breakdown. They gave it a much nicer name, caregiver burnout. No matter how you clean it up, it was messy. I was a mess. I was lost in my depression. For 8 years I had held myself together with pure grit and will. I thought I was being tough. I mean, mothers of disabled children are supposed to be a special breed, right. God “chose” us as special parents of these special children, right? Nope, I was just MaryEllen. Full of the same stuff and guts as any other mother. I wont lie, I found a sort of strength in people looking up to me as this pillar of my local special needs community. I guess arrogance was a way I could hide the bubbling disaster that was beginning to spill out. My slip was starting to show as my grandmother used to say. ( I am a southern girl so let me translate. I was beginning to fall apart).
I started slowly . I never dealt with the guilt and post traumatic anxiety I had over my son’s birth. I felt as though my body and therefore me failed him. I swallowed that down and told myself to get over it, but it never went away. I threw myself in to my son’s care. Researching and taking him to every possible physical and occupational therapy I could find.  If I could only fix him, I could fix myself, or at least that is what I told myself. Just one of the many lies I told myself. Years went by and my self-care became less and less. I had happy times but in the deep recesses of my mind that woman that was trying to swallow me whole grew louder. Finally the day came that I broke. My body had enough. If I wasn’t going to take care of myself willingly, my body was going to force me. It shut down.
It felt like I was going to die. I lost sense with reality and spent a week in the hospital because of it. Even during the breakdown I tried to control what people were told.  At first the hospital thought I was having a stroke, so that is the narrative I let stay out there. The truth was, I had a mental breakdown. Pure and simple. Today as I sit here I find NO shame in it, but 2 years ago all I could feel was the shame of it. I look back and see that I was suicidal and lucky to be here today. I owe that to my husband. He supported me and never once made me feel like I wasn’t going to make it through the day, or that he was ashamed  of me. I did make it. I am here today and I feel the need to finally share this moment in time.  At the time I couldn’t bring myself to hit publish, but it holds no power over me now. The following is the unpublished post….
If you have every read this blog, you know that I am pretty open about my life as a mom.
I was open about the years of infertility.
I was open about having a preemie.
I was open about having a child diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy.
Sharing about this time of my life has left me feeling like someone has removed all my skin and I am just raw and exposed for everyone to see. Every nerve is sensitive. There have been many times that I have regretted making that post. I have wished that I could pull it back from cyber space. But I cant and now I have to face what I have been fearing.  ME.
I honestly don’t know how I am right now. My answer if you ask me, is that I think I am getting better everyday. I might say fine. But sitting here in front of this computer, I feel relieved that this day is over. I look forward to bedtime. I look forward to being able to check off another day and be proud that I was able to function, or at least pretend to. Right now functioning is my goal.  Making sure that my children are taken care of , homeschooling gets done. It is so hard to share these thoughts. I have written several sentences and erased them because they are too raw to expose.
I WANT everything to go back to normal. I WANT to find my joy. I know that I will. It will just take time.
I think for me it is like this dam has been opened up and everything I have been holding in for 8 years, is coming out. The guilt I have over James’s birth injury. Those are feelings that haunt me and I am being forced to face them. They have crept into every part of my life and left a mark. Knowing that this is my life forever. I will always be a caregiver. Of course my goal is for James to be an independent as possible . Knowing it was my fault. I am so ashamed that I failed him.
I have read this entry from that time over and over. It makes me feel proud of where I am today. It makes me feel victorious that I didn’t allow that woman’s voice to win. I am not saying that everything is perfect, but I have learned to recognize signs that I am slipping back into those dangerous ways. I am in counseling and getting help with medications. I can share that these days. Two years ago I would have never shared that I was on anti depression and anti anxiety medications. But I am, and I am alive because of them. It has nothing to do with my Faith or not praying enough. I needed help. I couldn’t then and can’t now “do it all”. What I CAN do is share with you. I can tell you that there is hope and help. Shame has no part to play. My recovery from that woman has been slow. I can see that I have named her voice and now her voice isn’t a stranger to me. Her name is depression and anxiety and I have a plan of action that moves me forward.  

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