I am so many things, but the event horizon of my life was the birth of my third daughter. Not in the eyes-misting-over, can’t-imagine-my-life-without-her kind of way, but in the unleashing of a bubbling mess of turmoil that apparently had been lurking beneath the surface for several years.
In what my therapist later called ‘the perfect storm’, but which I couldn’t recognize in the midst of the maelstrom, a series of difficult circumstances converged to shove my head down into that murk. Blindsided by the pregnancy, family members dying around me, others bowed down in grief, my body literally pulling itself apart . . . I wondered why life was suddenly so much harder. Raising a child is hard, as anyone who’s been within three feet of one can attest, and I now had three of them. But it progressively became apparent that I could not cope. I was not myself. And I hated everything about my new life and this new, lesser version of whom I’d become.
Nearly five months after the birth of my daughter, I had a name for the pool of misery into which I’d plunged: postpartum depression.
But as anyone who’s experienced mental illness knows all too well, diagnosis refuses to be contained in one nice, neat little box. Other issues presented themselves, climbing out of the shadows in which they’d lurked since childhood. The anxiety I’d always seen in my peripheral vision, but skittered away when I looked at it dead-on, suddenly became the lens through which I viewed my whole life.
My anal-retentive, obsessively perfectionist self wanted answers. Reasons. Origins. Causes. Maybe I thought that once I discovered all that, I’d have the solution to all these problems. If only it were that “easy”. There is no getting over postpartum. There is no healing of anxiety. They have forever shaped who I am and how I live my life. Fortunately, I’ve found reserves of strength in the agony.
One of which is actually owning up to my experience. It took me two years to start a blog chronicling it and my continuing struggle, but when it flew, that flag had my name on it. I flapped that torn swath of fabric for all to see in the hopes that other women didn’t see themselves as horrible beasts rather than mothers who need help. With my daughter now four years old, I suppose I can’t exactly claim postpartum, but I hope that my blog has expanded to include any individual who labors under the cloak of anxiety and depression.
The quest to chronicle my mental health struggles claimed me; not I, it. I am a writer by trade, though, writing novels for young adult readers and literary short stories. My unique experiences help me create some wonderfully warped characters! Someday I may even get around to writing a memoir of my ‘event horizon’ and its effects.
I am so honored to be but one brushstroke on this Canvas of the Minds.
My blog: Chopping Potatoes
© Jennifer Butler Basile and A Canvas Of The Minds 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Display Name and A Canvas Of The Minds with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.