Short Life.

After being released from the psychiatric hospital last year, I struggled a lot with controlling my thoughts. I would get *flashbacks* of the horrible things I mentally conjured up pre-hospitalization.
Are you familiar with the song If I Die Youngby The Band Perry? Band member Kimberly’s voice is heavenly–a unique and distinct sound that I’ve come to incessantly enjoy {TBP are currently my #1 fav on Pandora}
But for almost a year, I would instinctively turn the station whenever I heard If I Die Young, without a second thought. I’d hear my husband say, “Hey! That’s such a beautiful song.” To which I’d respond, “I know, but I don’t like it.”
The lyrics just hit too close to home for me:
     Lord make me a rainbow, I’ll shine down on my mother
     She’ll know I’m safe with you when she stands under my colors, oh well
     Life ain’t always what you think it ought to me, no
     Ain’t even grey, but she buries her baby
     The sharp knife of a short life…
Hits. Home. Hard.
Why?
Because that could have been me.
It pains me to say it out loud, which is why I’m writing it instead.
Every time I’d hear those words, a pit would form in my stomach. Guilt, shame, and embarrassment would drown me. Listening to that song, no matter how beautifully written and sung it was, would bring me back to the time when I was at my lowest. How selfish of me to think that taking my own life would make me feel better. But with postpartum depression, you can’t help it. I couldn’t choose not to have these thoughts, no matter how hard I tried.
When people would tell me, “Mind over matter”, I wanted to sock ‘em a good one! Seriously.
Now when I hear that song?
I feel empowered.
Yes, that could have been me… the sharp knife of a short life
But it wasn’t.
I released myself from that stinkin’ thinkin’ and beat those thoughts deep down to the core of the Earth.
Adios, nasty thoughts. You don’t live here no more!
After all the cognitive therapy I’ve gone through, I’m able to send any negative thoughts into the ether and be done with them. The truth is, thoughts are constantly fleeting through our minds. It’s our decision whether or not they stick around for a free meal.
True, I needed medication to give me a jump-start, but that’s okay. For me.
I no longer have *those* thoughts, (thank God!) but whenever an unwanted thought (for example, imagining a car accident involving family) pops into my mind {every one of us have had fleeting thoughts like these} I simply choose a different thought. I’ll think about playing in the park with my daughter, or the latest episode of Modern Familyor New Girl…
It took time for this to become a habit of mine, but it works.
It’s rather difficult to think negatively when you’re too busy thinking positively!
***
Are there any “tricks” you have for getting out of that “stinkin’ thinkin'”?
Loyally,
Katie

PPD: Discouraged

The following is a journal entry, written on 2/2/11, while fighting postpartum depression:

I am feeling discouraged right now. Three-4pm seems to be the time of day that gets me down. It’s really frustrating. Right now, I feel like, “How can I do this everyday? Is this really my life? When will it all be over?” I know I’m not supposed to project predicaments in to the future because I’m going to feel different then, than I do now, but I can’t help it. I don’t know what I need. I was doing so well this morning. But now? Now I feel very discouraged and incapable. It scares me because it’s not who I really am. It doesn’t make any sense. My dream was to be a stay-at-home-mom. So why is this happening to me? Why am I so miserable? This isn’t suppose to happen to me. I feel like I’m being punished.

To read more about my PPD journey, click here.

Grateful.

In case you didn’t see my guest post on The Mommies, here’s what you missed:

Have you ever tried worrying and being grateful at the same time?
Go ahead. Try. I’ll wait.
Did you do it?
Didn’t think so.
The antidote for worry is gratitude and well-being. It’s impossible to worry about something when you’re busy being grateful. Unfortunately, the same is true the other way around. You can’t be grateful for something if you’re too damn busy worrying about a million other things.
Have you ever been stuck smack in the middle lane of the interstate during 7AM traffic? Do you cope by blowing your horn, or huffing and puffing because you’re going to be late to work, only to get yourself so worked up, you actually break a sweat? And what does all that blood, sweat, and tears (I exaggerate. Kinda.) get you? A headache? Maybe two inches of black top, only to be cut off by a punk on a motorcycle? …aaaannnd, now we’re cursing.
Next time, instead of focusing on the negatives, why don’t you try being grateful? Katie, how can I be grateful for morning traffic?! Well, my friends (& I hope we can be friends!) it’s simple. You have to change your way of thinking and count your blessings: I may be sitting in bumper-to-bumper agony, but at least I have a car. There are people who have never even set foot in a car, let alone have paved roads. I’m grateful for that. I’m grateful I have the money (at least for now) to fill up my tank. I’m grateful this seat belt is keeping me safe. I’m grateful I don’t have to walk to work. I’m grateful for my air conditioning & music to keep me company. And if, and only if, I’m stopped at a traffic light, I’m grateful for Facebook on my iPhone.
Have we forgotten about that punk on the motorcycle yet?
Good! And trust me, it works in all sorts of situations: Baby screaming? I’m grateful she has working lungs. Shins and calves burning after that two-mile run? I’m grateful I have legs to run on. With practice and determination, you’ll soon be riding the “Grateful Train” first-class to “Calmville.” Scout’s Honor.
Now how did I get to be all expert-y, noble & wise about gratitude?
{Hi, my name is Sarcasm. Nice to meet you.}
I am who I am today because of a nasty thing called Postpartum Depression; or “Hell,” for short. The past six months of my daughter’s life have been a whirlwind for me, to say the least. I, probably like most women, skimmed over the PPD sections in the baby books since ‘yanno… never thought it would happen to me. Ain’t that how the story goes?
Anywho… long story short: I found myself hospitalized for a week at a behavioral center. Most terrifying and astounding life-changing experience of my life! I’d like to share with you my personal testimony after spending an additional month in an outpatient recovery program:
Written on February 15, 2011
I have certainly come a long way in this ever so challenging journey. This has been by far the hardest thing I’ve ever been through. My dream has always been to be a mom, so when the foreign and nightmarish thoughts hit me like a brick, it scared the living day lights out of me, to say the least. The anxiety attacks were like nothing I’ve ever experienced or even seen before. I didn’t know who I was anymore.
The best decision I ever made was going to the hospital. Although it was absolutely terrifying at first, it was the right place for me to be. And PHP [the Partial-Hospitalized Program] has continued to help me tremendously. I have learned so much—especially about myself. I never knew I had so much strength and determination.
I learned that in order to gain massive momentum in my recovery, I had to get moving! That became my new mantra. I lacked a lot of motivation when I first stepped foot in here, but I soon realized it didn’t mean I couldn’t still do the things I used to love. I am capable. I am capable of so much. It took a lot of practice, but my mood is finally catching up.
I made a promise to myself to never give up no matter what! I wanted things to change, so with the picture of my husband and daughter in my mind, I knew the only way I was going to make that happen was to JUST DO IT! Even if I didn’t feel like it, I made myself do it because it was the right thing for my recovery. If I didn’t change my thoughts and behavior, then things were going to stay exactly as they were, and I definitely didn’t want that! I took my first step, stayed committed to my recovery, and things started becoming easier day by day.
Seven weeks ago, I was crying and screaming on the bathroom floor, begging to die; and now I’m playing flag football and caring for my daughter like I always knew I could. It’s hard to imagine I once thought about taking my own life, and now I would give it away in a heartbeat if it were to benefit my daughter.
I despised the fact that I got Postpartum Depression. I thought, Why me? Why is God punishing me? But now? Now, I see the beauty of this experience and how it has strengthened me. Every day I’m a little bit more of who I want to be. Every day I become a better person; and for that, I am truly grateful.
***
You can’t have a testimony without a test, right?
A fellow patient—a mom, who lost her twenty-six year-old [former soldier & current police officer] son, to a heinous murder as he was called to a robbery, told me I inspired her. Well if that doesn’t humble your heart, I don’t know what will! If she had the courage to dust herself off, then I surely didn’t have any excuses. I could hold my baby in my arms—she no longer could.
Life isn’t always easy. But it sure is worth the fight.
So that’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it! I’m Katie. A devoted wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend, who strives to be the best I can be, every day, for all the right reasons.
Loyally,
Katie