The truth in my pain

There was once a time when my children didn’t overwhelm my very being. When I wasn’t short tempered and impatient. When I could clean and cook and do fun stuff with them. When everyday was an adventure with them and not just a day to get through. When I loved every moment of being a mom and never wondered why I had kids. When I just knew.

And then depression entered my life. Now some days are good days. But most days aren’t. Most days are just days to get through. Now I find myself frustrated and annoyed by tantrums that I used to work through with them. I find myself allowing more screen time. I take them to the park less.

I write this with a heavy heart and tears running down my cheeks. Alex starts school in a month. The last days of having him home with me all day everyday are upon us. And I can’t muster up the strength to enjoy them. I feel trapped in my weaknesses.

I love my kids more then words can possibly express. But lately I wonder if they know that. If I am capable of showing them that. It hurts to think I might be failing them. To know I’m not being the best I can be. And not know how to fix it.

I feel so much guilt when I raise my voice. Or snap at them. Or show my annoyances.

I dont write this for your sympathy or to search for words of encouragement. I write this because I feel alone. But I can’t be the only mom who feels this. I hope my confessions can make even one mom feel a little less alone.

Whoever you are, you are not alone.

A Step Towards Healing

The last year has been really hard on Hubs. I have seen him slowly spiral downhill into a place I can’t always reach him. I have watched him change from the man I married into someone else. Someone who was a shadow of the person he used to be.

Over the last year, Hubs has seen no shortage of health care professionals. While we were still in NB, and he was still in the military, he was seeing a Nurse Practitioner. He had been seeing the same NP for years. She was also noticing the change in him. She acknowledged she thought he may be depressed about a year before he was released (which was about the time the release process started) She did not send him to see anyone at this time. It wasn’t until about 2 months before his release that she decided to send him to anyone. Well. He needed to see a psychologist or a psychiatrist. But those have waiting times. So she sent him to a counselor. The counselor acknowledged he had depression and anxiety ‘tendencies’ and gave him breathing techniques. They didn’t help him.

Through all this, I knew that something was off. He needed more help. But the military isn’t really open to spouses advocating for the health care of their serving members. I tried. But there wasn’t anyone listening to me. I was just the spouse.

Around the time he was being released we started meeting with Veterans Affairs Canada. VAC disappointed me over and over and over when it came to Hubs. Hubs should have all his medications and treatments covered in relation to his ankle injuries. His right ankle was injured as a direct result of the military and we have documented proof of his left ankle being injured due to his right ankle. We have documented proof that he grinds his teeth due to the pain and the stress surrounding everything. We had 2 medical professionals stating that Hubs was, on some level, depressed and needed help. VAC acknowledged that his right ankle was the military’s fault and is covering all his treatments. They acknowledge that his left ankle injury was caused from compensating for his right ankle, but they are refusing to cover treatment for it. We can’t find anyone willing to treat the right ankle and not the left ankle. As soon as the right ankle is treated, the fear is the left will get worse if it’s not receiving some care too.  And if the left gets worse, the right will to, because Hubs will likely compensate for the added pain in his left ankle by over using the right ankle. But I am kind of digressing here.

Every time VAC denies something, I can see  Hubs getting more and more discouraged that he isn’t being listened to. (this problem isn’t unique to us, a lot of people have this issue with VAC) No one was helping him with those emotions. Finally we were assigned a VAC caseworker here in Winnipeg. Finally we had someone we could sit down with and talk to. Someone who’s job was to oversee Hubs file. He can’t make the decisions on our claims, but we had someone who was going to advocate for us. Someone who wanted to see Hubs get the help he needed. Someone who was going to educate us on what our entitlements are. Someone who would tell us how to appeal the decisions we felt were unfair. Someone who could HEAR us.

We met with the caseworker for the first time in late August. He came to our home and observed. Finally I had someone ask me about Hubs mental health and how I felt he was coping. What I felt he might need. Imagine that. Someone asking me, his wife, his spouse, his support, the only one who sees him on a day to day basis. I felt heard. I told our caseworker about our day to day lives. I told him about how some days Hubs isn’t here. He’s here in body. But that’s about it. I told him that I KNOW my husband needs to talk to someone. I can see him going downhill. He told me about a clinic that sees veterans that Hubs qualified for that would enable him to see a psychiatrist for an evaluation and see someone on a regular basis if he needed it. And it wouldn’t cost us anything. I could have hugged him.

That was August. Hubs FINALLY had his evaluation yesterday. He was diagnosed with depression and chronic pain. The psychiatrist is sending in a referral to a psychologist, a referral to a pain management clinic and a referral to our family Dr to have Hubs put on anti depressants. Finally. I feel like a weight has been lifted off me. I feel like we are finally, finally moving in a direction towards something positive for him. I feel like maybe, just maybe, he’ll be able to struggle a little less and feel a little more like himself. I hope he can finally feel like he is being listened to and heard. That someone out there is taking him seriously and wants to see him heal. I want so desperately to have my husband back. I want so much for him to find a way to cope and not stress and obsess so much about everything going on. I know it might take awhile but I am still holding that hope that there is a better tomorrow out there for us.

Love, hugs and more to come later
Lynn

The Postpartum Life

This post is one I have been thinking about writing for a few days. I quite honestly don’t know where to start. After giving birth, your body changes. Fast. Drastically. In a big way. It’s overwhelming. It’s scary. It’s depressing. 

After I gave birth to Nick, Hubs went right back to work. He wasn’t going to take any parental leave. I could handle two kids on my own. It couldn’t be that different from having just Alex. I was wrong. Within a month Hubs was home with us. I couldn’t do it. (It takes a lot to admit this) Anytime the kids cried, I had anxiety attacks. If only one of them cried, no problem. But put them together and I shut down. Hubs came home one day to find the three of us sitting on the floor in the playroom crying. He’d noticed that there was something off with me since I had the baby, he just wasn’t sure what. He went on parental the next morning to give me the support I obviously needed at home, and sent me into my Dr to talk about what was happening. The Dr diagnosed me with mild postpartum depression and moderate postpartum anxiety. Hubs and I did some research, we talked, and we coped with it. I started taking birth control to help regulate my hormones. I started going out once a week to interact with people. I had an amazing photographer take boudoir photos of me (amazingly it helped. A lot. I started feeling better. Then we decided we wanted another baby.

When we made the decision to have a third baby, I was excited. I couldn’t wait. Things were going so great with our family, but I felt like something was missing in our lives. Once we made the decision we wanted another baby, we knew that we needed to talk about what we could do differently this time around to make the postpartum period easier. We talked for a long time about the circumstances around Nick’s birth. We realized we had a lot of negative people in our lives. I decided I needed to get those people out of my life. So I did. Anytime someone was super negative about our situation (for example, criticizing our choice to have a third baby) I removed them from my Facebook. I got my friends list down from over 200 people to 70 people. We were excited to be expecting Zoey and my pregnancy progressed.
Throughout my pregnancy, there were a few ‘episodes’ when I would have anxiety attacks, but overall I was controlling it well and I was optimistic that things were going to be better. I was over it. It went away. Turns out depression and anxiety don’t really just ‘go away’ they are always there. In the background. Watching. Waiting. For the opportunity to present itself. When I had Zoey, I felt great. The delivery was easy compared to the boys, my recovery was fast. But my body. It was so so so so so different. Even more different then when I had the boys. The stretch marks. The saggy-ness. It was depressing. I know that it won’t look like this forever, rationally. But my rational self is on a shelf that I can’t reach right now. Leaving me very irrational. Leaving me feeling anxious about things I shouldn’t feel anxious about. I know I don’t need to worry about what my body looks like. Stretch marks and saggy-ness is to be expecting after having a baby, especially after having 3 back to back babies. I mean, I’ve already lost 30 lbs. I am doing good for having just had Zoey 3 weeks ago.
My body isn’t the only thing causing me anxiety. There are other things too. Things that, rationally, I don’t need to be anxious about. But I can’t control it. At all. It consumes me. So it’s all I can think about. But I don’t doubt my parenting. I know I am a good Momma. I doubt how great of a wife I am being lately. I doubt a lot of things about myself. But never my role as a Mother. That’s gotta be an improvement right?
I am going to see the Dr later this week. I know there is something wrong and that I need help. Hubs and I have talked about it. And now I have made it even more real by writing it here. The reason I wanted to write this, is because after I had Nick and was going through this originally, I felt alone. Anxiety and depression seem to be taboo topics to talk about. They shouldn’t be. They are real. And the people who feel them are real too. And we all deserve to be listened to. I don’t feel so alone now, I have found a support system. And that helps. A lot.

Love, hugs, and more to come later

Lynn