As a mental health advocate, I feel like I have a responsibility to do as much as I can to change the way we view mental health issues in this country, to change the dialogue surrounding them. The first, biggest hurdle to overcome has to do with the stigma associated with these conditions.
I came up with an idea to chronicle everything going on in my head for 24 hours. A literal day in the life of someone with postpartum depression, ADHD, PTSD and anxiety. I have to warn you that like 75% of what you are about to read is the result of the ADHD, which tends to hit hard at night especially...
Here goes nothing.
3:43 wake up to feed baby, “In the Night” by The Weeknd playing in my head, realize I need to start leaving ringer on phone because of doula client, so many things I need to cover at the next meeting, I hope I don't screw this up, need to pump more because only have two bottles saved, god I hate pumping, this pump doesn't work anyway not sure wth is wrong with it. Twirl earrings.
3:49 switch sides, “Downtown” playing in head, which becomes “Uptown Funk” almost immediately. Start worrying about insomnia kicking in after he nurses. So tired, need sleep. Should I do this project? What will people think? Do I care? If I have a bad day with the thoughts about the baby should I be honest because what if people think I'm actually going to hurt him. God. Why did I even bring this up? It will help someone. Maybe right? This is stupid. I need to pee but he's eating and I don't want to get up. Want to go back to sleep tonight, not be up for hours again. Feet are hot. Should write this down. Will open docs, take notes. When he is done, don't need him up all night too.
3:55 he's done and snoring. Roll over, take notes. Stupid screen...you know they say nighttime phone use is so bad now. This is just tonight so I can take notes. Hopefully. Since I'm up, check notifications. Don't want to keep arguing with blog commenter. Ugh. Ignore pending comment. Again. Need to delete files because memory is full. Should upload video to YouTube first but not now. Need to sleep. Try to sleep. Hey, Bruno Mars, singing in my head. Now the dog is snoring. Name doc “24hrs” and realize this is going to be long. Why did I do this?
4:02 read comments on video. Shit. I did it now. Guess I have to follow through with it. Stomach gurgle. Hungry. Self it's 4am shut up. Go to sleep, you have to get up soon.
4:19 still awake. Baby holding my hand in his sleep, he's always done this. Keeps me grounded. Perspective. I need to seriously delete files so I can make a video when I wake up that will be easier. I think. But do I get up and shower first no that wouldn't be real. The Weeknd is really good. "In the night", again in my brain. Why can't it stop so I can go to sleep? I need aluminum foil. Shit. What else did she say I need to get? Dammit. Need to make a list and go to the store. Maybe not the best idea during this project lol. MAKE ALL THE LISTS. Twirl earrings. How many piercings should I do on the other side? Really need to let these heal first. What if they get infected? I don't want them to get infected. Yawn. I'm yawning now. Go to sleep. But I'm thirsty. Try to drink without spilling. God this autocorrect sucks in docs it should know me by now dammit. Go to sleep.
5:02 seriously go to sleep. Go the fuck to sleep. At what point do I just give up and get out of bed?
6:45 turn off alarm. Must have eventually fallen asleep.
6:52 Start hoping husband will take home schoolers to supplement because pants are dumb and I might have to talk to people. Write stuff down. Wonder what the hell I was dreaming about the power Rangers for. Again. Three days in a row now that I've been the yellow ranger.
7:17 older kids off to school, dog laying on me. Need to get little kids up. Regretting this commitment to this project. Posted the comment that I ignored last night but I'm done responding. Not doing circular arguments today.
7:19 looked at the on this day fb stuff. Why why why do I do that? Miss my parents. Deleted what I can on phone to make videos. Videos are dumb.
7:25 turned on tv. Anti smoking commercial, grrr. Hey guess what killed your Dad at7aminthefuckingmorning, here's another reminder. Oprah loves bread and money and maybe if she can't ever lose weight with her vast fortune and all the help, some of us are just destined to be overweight soooo. I'm hungry. And fat. Go make a kale smoothie, kelly. Your body will thank you. Fine. God.
7:45 make smoothie, change kefir, did you feed the dog, did you take your medicine, is your lunch packed, do you have a water bottle, have a good day, i love you.
7:55 quiet. husband took homeschoolers. make and delete two videos. make third video and upload it before i watch and delete it. i hate videos.
8-9 obsess about videos. watch and rewatch them over and over and over again, mock self. laugh a little. i am funny, so there's that.
9:05 start writing post. come up with catchy title just in case this becomes a thing. realize that i should probably write something about each of the conditions i live with separately because this is probably going to read like a giant clusterfuck of a mess but oh well, this is what it's like for me every day.
9:26 i should wash the dishes. i should exercise before the baby gets up, but i won't have time to shower before he gets up probably. gross. i need to do laundry too and windows. good god the windows are disgusting, but there's no point cleaning them because the kids will just touch them again. need to make a list for the grocery store.
9:43 doorbell rings. WHY is the doorbell ringing? No one is supposed to come over. I hate salespeople. It had better not be some religious solicitation because I just won't answer the door. What if it's a serial killer and I'm dead and the baby is left upstairs sleeping and no one finds out until I don't show up to pick the kids up from school? peeks around corner and sees Fedex truck. Guy standing on porch. Goddammit I have to open the door because something needs signed for. Shit. Try to make small talk. Dog loves the stranger. Okay now stop talking and go away. No really, go away.
9:45 baby is up. Go get him out of the crib, walk past stairs. Vision of throwing him down them. (At this point, I am coming back to explain instrusive thoughts. It's a form of PPD tied closely to OCD in which the mother's brain envisions ways to harm the child. I have never and will never act on the visions, I cannot control them, and this stair vision has played out so many times that I'm well conditioned to ignore it. I am not, I repeat I am not, a threat to my child). Going to make a video about this and the Fedex dude. Because I can probably explain it better that way.
10:31 these videos take forever to upload. Life should move at the speed of my adhd brain, with 47 tabs open all the time dammit.
11:49 took the grain out of the fridge an hour ago to make bread so now I really need to go make bread. baby is having his thursday nursing fest. all we've done for an hour now. tick tock, baby. (just kidding, stay little forever)
12:00 Halfway done. Whew. This is kicking my ass a little bit. A lot. The grains are sitting on the stove mocking me, and I still haven't made a grocery list. I don't even know what I am going to make for dinner now because I missed the window to start the beans. Fuck. Even when I write the menu for the day in three different places, I still forget to start the stupid beans half of the time. Guess I'll be winging it. Trying to write and upload videos and play with the baby who wants to read all the books right now while sitting in a box.
12:04 watched the last video I posted and OMG I need to speak better. why am I making videos? Why haven't I taken a shower yet? having some irrational thoughts about the dog hurting the baby. the dog is napping. why, brain? why? THE DOG IS ASLEEP.
12:13 oh, hello PTSD. random memory trigger. breathe. where did that even come from? the fuck. heart is racing a little. going into a youtube song vortex. goddammit.
12:19 talking about the doorbell thing makes me think about the phone. disconnected the house land line four years ago because i couldn't deal with the anxiety every time it rang. every.single.time. i literally do not have a landline because of anxiety.
12:31 baby just went down for a nap. little weepy over this whole project idea.
12:43 just realized that today is the five year anniversary of my dad's funeral. and i'm doing this today. coincidence? maybe. i think he'd be proud of me. maybe a little bit worried about me, but still proud.
1:07 did afternoon update video. going to find something to keep my brain occupied. need to shower. will probably cry in there.
1:29 still sitting here. can't will myself to get up and do the stuff yet. need to get up. hey, self. maybe don't listen to jeff buckley right now.
2:00 full blown procrastination mode. still haven't done the dishes. put the grains back in the fridge because fuck it not today. i can wait like 20 more minutes to shower if i really have to wait. which i don't but i probably will. obviously, i'm not getting shit done today.
2:09 it's really windy. i hate the wind. just generally, but especially when it's unseasonably warm wind in february, probably because of the association with my dad's death and all the other shit that was going on at the time. i don't want to go outside at all, but i need to go pick up the kids. soon. i need to go. i'd rather just sit here. or sleep. i'm also deliberately avoiding reading anything on the news, any of the trending stories on facebook, haven't turned the tv on at all since the smoking ad and fat Oprah this morning. i know that today is going to be hard enough without adding to it. though mindless background noise might actually be a good thing. i can feel the anxiety getting worse. my stomach is in knots. and i have to go interact with humans today since freckles has a concert. at least it will be dark. i'm pathetic.
2:14 go shower. seriously, just go get it over with. you need to get it done and get the baby up, fed and dressed and be out the door in 21 minutes. i'm so tired. and i need to drink water. get up. jesus, kelly, get up.
2:20 crying in the shower, check.
2:30 staring at myself naked in the mirror after shower. Nit picking. Overanalyzing. Stepped on scale and hated myself even though the number is going down. It shouldn't matter. It shouldn't matter. I know this and still...
2:37 get baby up from his nap. he's doing the shaky thing he does when he transitions from sleeping to waking and it always freaks me out. i know it's fine because two of the other kids did this and outgrew it and i know it isn't a big deal, but i always want to make sure. do not google this. do not google this. do not google this.
2:38 stairs again. fuck you stairs.
2:50 take a selfie while waiting for the oldest. prove to myself that i'm okay even if i feel like a goddamn hot mess.
3:07 sitting in parking lot. Just had to take my contacts out because my eyes are jacked from crying. Only have sunglasses and have to go inside to sign kids out. Awesome. 9 hours left.
3:30 the one who worries about all the things is in the car after school worrying about all the things. i'll probably screw something up today, so try not to do that.
4:00 feed baby. worry about whether my milk supply is good enough since he's still cluster feeding at 16 months old. KNOW THAT HE'S FINE and whythefuck am i still worrying about this. why.
4:15 put older kids in charge of baby for a little bit, go hide upstairs and make video. face all broken out, probably stress. looks awful in the video. suck it up and deal, kelly.
4:30 mom mom mom mom mom mom mom mom mom what are you doing?
5:08 start making dinner. need to make sure it is done in time to get to the concert on time, no actually we need to make sure that we get there early because the one who worries is already worrying and i need to not make this worse.
5:44 carpal tunnel acting up. Fabulous. Stress. Make dinner.
6:09 husband home. He brought me flowers. I almost lost it. I know he's been watching these videos all day, wondering why I am doing this to myself. It's a valid question. God, I love him. I can't even imagine what he puts up with at times living with me.
6:52 concert, people, hiding. Feel weird.
7:20 baby bored waiting for concert. Husband takes him. Grateful. Can't sit still, but can't get up because I'm saving seats.
8:04 can't focus on the music at the concert because the people next to me are talking. All the shiny things. There are too many people in here and I'm fidgeting. It's windy and rainy outside and delicious. I could just go stand out there and scream into the storm for a little while, but I'm here. Inside. Screaming inside. Silently.
8:14 there is one trumpet that is shinier than the other ones. music teacher got a new tattoo and it's all i can focus on. it looks really pretty from far away but i can't tell what it is.
8:37 it's over and we're in the car. yay.
8:50 frozen yogurt place with the kids. i sit with the baby so i won't obsess over what they choose. these places gross me out. i don't want any. i don't want any. i don't want any. it's fine. it's fiiiiiiine. guy who works there is flirting with my daughter. little boy has his molar cut through the gums. seriously, right now kid? blood everywhere. awesome. we are those people.
9:15 feed baby. thank you sweet baby jesus for oxytocin. all the oxytocin.
9:36 kids in bed. Finally have quiet again. Not sure how today went. Kinda isolated on Thursday as is, more so today. Little less adhd than normal, little less ppd than normal, anxiety about average. Ptsd Meh. It's always there in the back of my mind. Don't think it will ever completely go away.
That's the thing. This is every day and Today was mellow.
Thinking maybe I should write about coping mechanisms. Like how to live with this shit, except today was a pretty terrible example since I really didn't accomplish anything.
Got an email about new job. Way stressed about that. It is supposed to be fun and maybe at some point I'll get there, but I have to get through the anxiety of it all. Almost glad I was bumped to being a sub initially because I'm just not in the mindset to start with my own gig yet. Cop out. That's a cop out.
Self deprecation, 101. Except not the super funny kind. The real kind where I feel pretty worthless.
I have a lot of shit to wade through.
Some days I swan dive and rock the butterfly.
Some days I'm barely doggy paddling to the other side just before drowning.
Maybe I'll feel better about this project tomorrow. Maybe.
Right now I think it was a terrible idea.
9:47 I'm overanalyzing this. That's my jam. Not sure what I thought this would be like. Funnier maybe? Less holyshitthisisconstant. I swear I'm funny. Usually. It's a coping mechanism. Ack.
Some people have mentioned wanting to do this project too. Maybe it will become a thing. It's hard though, I won't lie especially since there are like 400 additional anxiety things I didn't even have a chance to include today like when I burped silently and was convinced that everyone at the concert could smell it or when the lady next to me touched my leg when she sat down and it got weird or when I think obsessively about which streets to take for carpool or when I hear a noise from the wind outside and am certain something catastrophic is happening but it's just wind. Or when or when or when.
Also now realizing I may have had ptsd after miscarriage, that I probably had it, definitely ramped up anxiety afterwards during each pregnancy after that. Not sure if that would be classified as ppda or not. Guess categories don't really matter all that much. Hearing phantom babies crying in the middle of the night for months can't be normal, right? Freaking out constantly about whether the baby is still alive isn't normal, either. Dammit. I wasn't supposed to be digging up old shit from the past today.
10:02 start to make video, abandon that idea. go to bed instead. now, go the fuck to sleep kelly. seriously. go to sleep. save the world tomorrow.
I did sleep.