My Temporary Madness (part 6 of Emmanuel’s story)
Psychosis is an abnormal psychological state that involves disruptions in fundamental aspects of brain functioning such as cognition, perception, processing, and emotion. Historically, psychosis was used to refer to any mental health condition that interfered with normal functioning. In contemporary psychology, however, it is most commonly used to describe an episode that causes someone to disconnect in some way from reality. (www.goodtherapy.org)
The light I found slipped away and my soul melted into a puddle on the floor and a maddening darkness took over in my brain. Trying to explain what was happening inside seems impossible. There are words that come to mind but they still don’t quite do this disease justice.
It started a week after the funeral (2 weeks postpartum). I wanted pain, the horrible storm inside needed out and pain seemed to be the only answer to that. It was as if physical pain would allow it to drain out of me. If that wasn’t it then pain seemed to be the only thing that would give me a break from my thoughts. Maybe if I was phsyically hurt my brain would focus on that and jump back to reality. I had one evaluation and was prescribed Zoloft. After 2 evaluations with my OB and an increased Edinburg (EPDS online test) I was referred for therapy.
I started my medication and began my therapy. The therapist I was/am seeing specializes in grief so I was encouraged. I had also worked with her briefly when I worked full-time, which made me comfortable.
I hated the medication, I felt numb which was OK except I had three young children. After the first week I really couldn’t handle it. At therapy we decided to go off medication and truly feel the emotions coming forward. A lot was explained to me about grief. But what I heard from it all is that the grief brought all my emotions to the surface so my chances of healing and moving past all this was a lot higher if we could tackle it without medications in the first six months. I had a plan and a goal — I was going to stick with it and kick this old school.
But, it got nasty.
I felt so lonely.
I felt and thought so many things I can’t even begin to truly explain. I thought, when I dropped my kids off to the sitter for a couple hours to regain sanity, that it would be the last time I would see them. I was sobbing because I couldn’t figure out what to watch on TV. There were days I didn’t eat or drink anything. Then there was the day I ate a pound of fudge. A pound of fudge I had purchased as a gift for someone for helping with my kids. I didn’t even know I ate it until I saw the box later. There was a time I looked at Ben’s butt while changing a diaper and he had such a bad rash I had to stop and really try and think about when the last time was that I changed his diaper.
Then, there were moments when I felt like I couldn’t tackle things. I would have this energy where I could do everything. I remember one morning taking the kids to the park, the grocery store, cleaning the kitchen and the bathroom all before 10:30am. It was like I got this green light and my engine roared and took off full speed. Until… I crashed again.
July 8th (3 weeks postpartum) I got a tattoo. My very first tattoo. I wanted to remember my message from Emmanuel. To Live in Love. It felt good, I felt human for that time there. Then it faded.
I called support group after support group. Postpartum Depression groups tell me it’s not a good idea to come because women there are struggling with bonding with their infant and I lost mine. Grief groups told me I would have a hard time relating because most of those parents lost older children with mental disabilities and I woudl have a hard time relating. What the hell was I supposed to do? There was no help anywhere.
People that were in similar situations I felt like I could connect with but still so frustrated because most of them had lost their first child and didn’t have 3 under the age of 5 at home needing them.
I felt so lonely.
I didn’t want to be with my kids. They were literally the last thing I wanted to do. They were so needy I couldn’t handle it. It was impossible for me to get up and change a diaper and get breakfast together. With every second I felt as though someone had taken one thread and my whole being was unraveling. And then, it happened. I hurt my daughter.
Me, Lindy, someone who is incredibly passionate about the care of children. Someone that dreamt of being an advocate for children. Someone who has been trained on child abuse prevention.
Luke and Claire were fighting under their homemade tent. I ripped the top blanket off, grabbed her bare skin torso tightly and slammed her down on our floor. She started scream “It’s hurts! You hurt me!”
I fell to the ground and came to reality for only a second. I was shaking and sobbing and holding her in my arms rocking her. I asked her where it hurt and she said “All over, it hurts all over!” I wanted to throw up.
She quit crying and I was hysterical still. She wiped my tears and said “Mommy, I’m ok, I’ll be ok.” and I just kept saying “I’m so sorry.”
I called Nick — can you imagine this phone call? At work, 45 minutes away, and your wife calls to tell you she hurt your daughter.
I swore I broke her tailbone, I thought for certain I jammed her spine. She repeatedly tells me “Mommy, don’t worry about me, I’m ok.” Looking back on it now I was obsessing over it. Rightfully so, but again — also not how I react.
I took the kids to the sitter, told the sitter what happened and asked if Claire complained at all to call me and I would take her to the hospital.
That’s when I knew I needed more (this was 4 weeks postpartum). Suicidal thoughts got stronger. However, to be clear, there were never plans or full ideas. It was more about the fact that I knew my family would be better without me. I can honestly say I don’t know if the thoughts every really told me to kill myself, or if it was more just a “leave” thought.
Throughout all of this I left my husband twice. Twice in 4 weeks. I got into the car and drove away. Both times to Wal-Mart, once without shoes and only my sports bra on and a hole in the crotch of my pants (I didn’t get out of my car). The other time I sat in the lipgloss and nailpolish section for hours. Determined that divorce was the only answer. The divorce thoughts were similar to my “suicidal” thoughts. Like he would be better without me.
I continued my Bible Study, I continued praying, I continued journaling. Therapy that Friday was terrible. I was so angry with her. I didn’t want to talk about my grief. I wanted answers on how I was supposed to survive day-to-day. How am I going to make it through this and how are my children and husband going to make it through? UGH! I was so mad.
I desperately started searching for something online. What the hell was happening to me? This wasn’t just depression, this was more. I was going crazy.
My husband and I kept fighting. The poor guy had no idea what to do. Every word he said turned into a stabbing knife into my heart. It didn’t matter what, but everything told me I needed to leave. One fight in the car I was sobbing plugging my ears because I couldn’t handle another word.
I had a conversation with a friend about wanting to crawl into the lap of God and just be held. I felt like one of my kids, just needing and wanting God to hold me until I felt better. But I couldn’t find Him.
I called my mom and said “I can’t be with my kids, I need you to take them.” That was hard. It was hard to say it out loud to my mom. It felt like I was saying “Here, I don’t want them anymore.” She did. She was trying so hard to help me. With words, and thoughts, and music. She was trying to help me to be me. And… I just couldn’t.
It’s hard having those conversations. When someone is trying to help you see light, trying to help you feel better and your head is screaming inside. It was like my brain didn’t want to hear those things because my brain wanted to stay this way. I felt possessed. Seriously, this isn’t an exageration. I felt like something had taken over my head.
How was this happening? I love being mom. There are days that I seriously think that was my purpose. I get so much joy out of the chaos. Being a mom was all I ever wanted to be for sure. The rest is still in the works, but I was sold on the mommy hat.
My mom taking the kids was the best thing I could’ve ever asked for. I did a session with a Dr from Cleveland Clinic followed by a session with my therapist and I had a breakthrough. FINALLY. Maybe it was timing, maybe it was hormones shifting, maybe it was the time to myself. Maybe it was all of it. But Friday July 22nd my cloud lifted, and for the first time in 5 weeks I could hear God again. I could read my Bible and find hope. I could have conversations with people and find strength. I could look at my husband and feel loved. I had my first every session of mourning Emmanuel. Real emotions, real tears, real sadness — it felt so good to be human and to mourn my baby boy. It felt so good to feel God agian. Emmanuel.