If you ever want to lose your sense of self than man, do I have a recipe for you:
HOW TO FEEL LIKE YOU’RE GOING INSANE PIE
1 part having a baby
2 parts of starting to get your bearings as a parent then going back to a demanding job working full time
Toss in a handful of unintended home renovation
SIFT YOUR DRY INGREDIENTS
A dash of losing your position of 7 years
A pinch of transitioning into a new position
MIX WET INGREDIENTS
Tears from stress and unexpected Postpartum Depression
Throw up from heartburn related to stress, PPD, acid reflux
Sit in your basement alone with too much time to think
Grease your pan. Leave room for growth. Bake at a temperature closely related to the fires of hell. Cut your life up into as many small disoriented pieces as possible. Add whipped topping because you don’t give AF. Enjoy.
That last part is a little dramatic. But, in all seriousness, these last seven months have thrown me completely for a loop. They’ve been hard for many unexpected reasons and I’m just now starting to come back into my own again. Which is fitting since my son’s first birthday is this week.
THE RABBIT HOLE
Authenticity. Connection. Balance. Restoration. Intention.
These words have been resonating and shining light on places that I had let dust settle into over the last several months. They are helping me sort through some emotional baggage that I have been figuring out and attempting to release. They have been a reminder for me to let go of what has been holding me back. They have been ever-present in conversations with new and old friends. They make their appearance known in unexpected places. They’ve been the nudge I’ve needed to get my head out of my butt and start listening to the universe a little.
For some reason I thought postpartum depression would be more directly related to my relationship with my son and it hasn’t been at all. Silly me for thinking I knew how that would work. What do I know? It has showed itself in mysterious and confusing ways. It manifested itself physically first through sleepless nights of heartburn, acid reflux, throwing up, writhing in the floor convinced I was having a heart attack. Then with night sweats and panic attacks while nursing my son in the middle of the night. It wasn’t until the holidays when my OCD, anxiety and the need to organize the empty Amazon boxes and fold the burp clothes in uniform size before I went to bed peaked that I realized I was out of control.
I remembered having a conversation with a friend while I was still pregnant and her telling me that her PPD showed itself in an unexpected way. That she didn’t feel depressed at all. She felt overwhelmed. (Sidenote: There is a whole world beyond PPD that includes OCD, anxiety, and psychosis.)
I put off calling my midwives. I was embarrassed. I thought because I had tried to prevent PPD, because I had made myself aware, because I was upfront about my history of anxiety and depression, because I had told my friends and family to be on the lookout that I had somehow manifested this nightmare I was living in.
I was afraid to leave the house. I was afraid I would hurt myself, my son, or my husband. Intentionally. Unintentionally. And it didn’t make sense. I am the kind of person that gets high off of my kid. I’m obsessed with him and the entire parenting experience. What the actual hell is going on with me?
After the holidays passed (ugh–I hate the holidays), I finally called my midwives. I broke out into a sweat on the phone. There is not a lot in this life that embarrasses me. But, admitting that I need help and feeling weak or vulnerable is enough to bring me to my knees. I’m not sure if it’s pride necessarily; I just want to feel capable. Even more so now that I have this tiny human that is looking to me.
The call was easier than I thought it would be, but I felt completely humbled and vulnerable. I just told them that I didn’t need to talk to anyone that day. I just wanted an appointment. And to see Blair the magical unicorn Midwife. She has seen me on my worst day, best day, and most vulnerable. Whatever she had to say I knew I could hear it coming from her mouth. And I knew she would say it with kindness.
I was surprised and a little confused when I got a call back. It was the nurse (who I love). They wanted to get me started on a med. But, she also just wanted to talk to me. Check in. And tell me her story. I ugly cried–wept to be exact. I just wanted to feel okay. But, the fact that someone cared enough to share with me and listen. It was the first time I had felt human, alive, seen and loved in days. I just needed someone to understand. To hear me. To know what I was feeling. I felt bad, broken, dirty, and ashamed. I felt like I was keeping secrets. It didn’t help that everyone thought I was fine. I was fine. And really not fine.
I put off writing about this very subject because I’m still working through this experience, I’m living it, and understanding my feelings associated with it. I’m not out of the woods…YET (shamelessly cue). I didn’t want to seem too “on trend”. Like PPD is something people want to have. Isn’t that dumb? Geeze, Lacey. It’s not “on trend”. Just because the goddess Chrissy Teigen talks about it does not mean that it is trendy. And let’s be real, thank god someone like her is talking about what so many of us experience. Everyone is just finally starting to talk about it like it’s not a scarlet letter. I need to get a grip. I’m also not too proud to admit that I was a little worried about what people might think. I hate pity. I don’t have time for it. I also don’t have time or energy for haters right now. Ew.
The medicine has helped (says the girl who is kind of anti big pharma and medicine in general). But it hasn’t been a cure-all. It shouldn’t be. And a lot has happened since I’ve started taking my antidepressant and I’ve changed and grown a lot in the last year. Hell, really the last six months. Which leads me to my next point.
THIS CASE OF MISTAKEN IDENTITY
I’m in the middle of a work and life transition. This is the end of an era for me. My last shoot as a re-enactment producer happened on my 30th birthday and my official position move occurred right around my 7 year work anniversary. A job I did for most of my 20s. I’ve needed a little bit of time to mourn. I was weirdly fired and not fired. Video production is a strange, complicated business. It felt personal and at the same time very clinical and astringent. The juxtaposition of my feelings about it and how the shift happened are comical. But, in hindsight I need this so badly. I was feeling stuck, too at ease, too settled, maybe a bit too big for my britches and a little jaded. I’m relieved to be pushed out of my comfort zone, freed up and given the time and opportunity to use skills that had been pushed by the wayside. Another part of me is still in shock. Shifting gears has never really been my strong suit. I never learned to drive stick.
I placed so much of my identity into that job. I felt like I had the plug pulled on a crucial part of who I am (was). I thought if I ever left that position it would feel more like graduating college or it would be more of a shift or some kind of consent. But no.
It opened my eyes. I’ve been attaching my identity in all the wrong places. I’ve been the girl with the cool job, the cool hair, the cool house, the cool hobbies, the cool whatever…
I’m a mom, daughter, wife, producer, creative director, co-founder, blogger, dreamer.
I’m just a Lacey. I’m still me with all of those things and titles stripped away. I’m still me on or off antidepressants. I’m just me and that is okay.
I’m changing. I thrive on change. Very few bad things have come from big life shifts for me. But man, it is hard for me to stare change straight in the eye and conquer it head on. For someone who truly believes that change is healthy I dig my heels in, panic, meltdown, and hold on with a vice grip to what I am leaving behind. I would love to be able stare it down confidently. I’m a real stereotypical Taurus. I’m terrified of the unknown. Maybe that will be the lesson I master in this new decade of my life (Oh hey, I recently turned 30. Saturn returns and all, if you are into that kind of thing.) I am finally starting to feel my age. Still a little young and dumb, but more settled into my skin, my life, and myself. I’m just stumbling my way through it all–life, career, marriage, parenting.
But, hey, aren’t we all?