Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders carry with them their own kind of dark. It’s a loud dark for many, filled with noise, thoughts, and frustrations bouncing off the ceiling, like bats fleeing from a cave when their “radar” isn’t quite working. Instead of flying perfectly out into the night, they bounce off the walls and fall down. But they get up and try again. Why? Because out in the world is their food and they need to eat. So…they have to leave the cave.
Try, try, try, try again. It’s not how you fall that matters. It’s how you get up.
I’ve been in that cave.
I tried, tried, tried and tried again until I finally flew free into the night, the sweet smell of honeysuckle surrounding me as mists of fresh rain drenched my face. Freedom from that cave is a feeling I will never forget.
But now, I find myself in a different kind of cave.
A cave made of physical limitations instead of mental struggles. This is not a prison of my mind. It is a prison of my body. Sadly, sometimes, it is both.
Today has been particularly difficult.
The pain started last week while I was traveling. I drove nearly 1800 miles in 7 days. Slept in different beds, didn’t have Tylenol and Ibuprofen with me, and spent hours sitting in a car (at least 28 hours just traveling, that doesn’t include the time driving while at my destination.) Driving through snow, ice, near-tornado conditions (I left Georgia the morning of the Adairsville Tornado), more snow & blizzard conditions, etc. On top of just sitting, driving was also stressful because I had to be very mindful of the not-so-awesome weather around me.
Since I’ve been home, the pain has spiraled down, increasing. I can’t get ahead of it. I went back to swimming this week. I’ve managed 25 laps, skipping Monday because I was exhausted just trying to scrape ice off my car.
I fear another flare is on the way. I am hoping it’s not but I can see it, hovering around the corner, giggling excitedly with glee at the prospect of tackling me once I get close enough.
This kind of dark SUCKS.
It sucks because there’s nothing I can do to prevent it. I can swim, I can take meds, I can avoid a large amount of carbs, and still… BOOM. There it is, waiting to pounce.
Today’s time in the pool was rough. I only went because I hurt. I forced myself to get in the pool and start swimming. Halfway through my body decided to quit. So I forced it to swim the final laps. I’m sure I looked like Elaine trying to dance in the pool but I didn’t care, dammit. I was there to swim at least 10 laps and by JOVE I was gonna put in my 10 laps.
As I got out of the pool, I faltered. To grab my towel, my mind had to slowly instruct my arm to reach out – as if I were an infant just learning to grab a toy. Don’t even get me started on the holy mess that was me trying to dress myself after showering.
Days like today are disheartening. Days like today are when the tears threaten to fall and I get angry. Angry and frustrated because I am still young and my body shouldn’t be doing this to me yet. But it is and here I am, in the dark.
Know what I’m gonna do tomorrow?
The same thing as today.
Because I didn’t kick ass through two severe episodes of postpartum depression to learn how to roll over and give up. No sir.
I kicked ass through two severe episodes of postpartum depression to learn how to FIGHT BACK.
Tomorrow, the battle continues.
I will win, just like I did today, even if it means I don’t get to leave the cave just yet. As long as I’m moving forward and doing my best, I will be happy with any amount of progress.