I have so much I want to say, so much I need to say, so much that needs to get out of my head, but I hesitate. I hold back.
I just do.
It's hard, really fucking hard sometimes, to be an advocate for maternal mental health and all the other things I try to fight for when I'm dealing with it here. In the inside of my skull. Like right now.
I catch myself not opening up about it and then I know that I need to write or talk to my husband or something and then it tends to come out like this.
I'm just going to apologize in advance if this is hard to follow. I'm not editing whatever I am writing right now because it is just going to come out however it needs to come out and if people can't understand that, I'm sorry. This is just how my brain is operating right at the moment.
I've been having a hard time lately. Part of it is the time of the year, the time of the year that threatens to undo whatever work I've put in and whatever progress I've made toward being marginally saner. I know that. July and I don't much get along, at least not for any length of time. I wonder if it will always be that way, if I'll always feel this subtle unsettling just beneath the surface for the entirety of the month or it someday it will fade away.
I hope it does, obviously. I've done as much as I think I can to will it away. Part of what needs to happen, though, is that time just needs to pass more. I need more distance between then and now, even though it's already been more years than I can really believe.
The PPD is raging about in my head, though I am doing all that I can to cope with that the best ways I know how. Let me tell you...intrusive thoughts are incredibly fucked up. Like, all the way fucked up. The human brain, especially the postpartum one...it can conjure up some really disturbing shit. It's not as bad as it's been, it's not happening all the time, it's not to the level of severity where it is really messing with me, but it's there, lingering in the shadows, waiting for just a moment of downtime in my head so that the thoughts can take over and get creative. If any of you out there have never been fully in control of your thoughts at any time for any reason, you might understand what I mean. If you've never experienced this, let me promise you that you never want to deal with it.
The best way that I can describe it is that your brain takes bit and pieces of what it sees, hears, absorbs, and then turns it into graphic horror film scenes filled with unimaginable things.
I never in my wildest dreams thought that post partum depression could fuck with my head this much, that I'd never be totally in control of my own brain. It sucks.
I know now that this beast is fed by my suppression of it. If I don't talk about it and tell people what is going on, if I try to somehow convince myself that it's fine, that I'm fine, that it will go away, that it won't get worse, it will do exactly the opposite. I've been here before. I've been in worse places with it before.
I know that I have to get outside. I need to be occupied. I need to feel the sunlight on my face, the breeze in my hair. This isn't some lofty idea of something that makes me a tiny bit happier, no. These are things required for my survival.
And I know this because I've been here before.
Some days, it's a fine line I'm walking.
It's hard. It's so fucking hard sometimes to make sure that I take care of myself, but I do it because I know that I have to. Not just for me, but for them, my kids, the ones that I swear to myself every single day that won't have their childhoods ruined because their mother was a wreck.
The anxiety that I live with anyway, all the time, it is ramped up pretty high right now too. I suppose I should own all the things wrong with me at the moment, right? This summer has been a test of my ability to let my children go, one that has been relentless from the beginning of the break and still is going on now. They're getting older and they want to go places and do things. They want to visit family members out of the state and get onto perfectly good airplanes and fly away and it takes everything in me to stuff the anxiety down into my gut sometimes. I want to hug them to my chest and tell them to stay home, to stay safe. I want to warn them about all the dangers in the world and the things that can happen and I want to keep them here with me. I want to protect them.
But I don't. I trust others with their care, I teach them to be independent and responsible and make good choices and then I let them go.
It scares the everloving shit out of me.
I can't ever let them know that while I'm reassuring them that everything will be okay and that I'll certainly miss them, but they'll have a good time anyway that inside my own head I'm working through every single possible harm that could befall them and seeing them all through to their ends. I can't. I can't tell them that I'm imagining about 973 things that could go wrong. I can't especially with the one who is gone now, the one who is just like me. She has so much anxiety all to herself that I can't let her believe for even one second that I'm worried about the things that she is worried about. I have to be strong and brave and confident and all of those things and I have to teach her to do it even when what my head and the rumbling in my gut tells me to tuck her under my wing and keep her safe.
I didn't do that. She got on a perfectly good airplane and flew away and seems to be having a wonderful time. She's doing that even though she was afraid of everything before she left, and she's doing it because she is strong and brave and confident in the face of the anxiety she lives with every day.
A very long time ago, I promised myself that I was going to do the best that I could not to let my issues negatively affect my children. I didn't want their childhoods cluttered with memories of my panic attacks or the times I freaked out or the places I refused to let them go. I don't want my issues to become theirs.
And I'm trying. I really am.
I think it's working. I hope it's working.
All I really know is that I need to go outside right now, so I'm going.
Because I have to.