A thousand times in the last three weeks I have wanted so badly to sit down and type out my feelings. I have had house guests for the last three weeks, and although it was nice to have people around me (as I’ve been spending an increasing amount of time alone whenever I can) I’ve felt myself hiding behind a mask to make everyone more comfortable around me, pushing everything into a bitter little ball inside of me, and using all of my force to keep that little nuclear bomb of emotion safe and hidden. It has been incredibly emotionally exhausting. So for the last few days that I’ve been home alone, I have essentially hidden myself away. I’ve barely been on the computer and I have spent countless hours just sitting in my backyard staring at the rose bush I have planted for Everlee.
Somedays, I feel like I am making strides forward. It’s not as hard to get out of bed, I don’t have to remind myself every 28 seconds not to cry, and I can go out into the world with minimal anxiety. Then there are the majority of my days, where I lie awake most of the nights in my bed and still can’t manage to force myself out of bed without having several emotional breakdowns. I spend at least an hour hyping myself up to leave the house. I hate when I see people I know. I’m sick. But not the kind of sick that keeps you bed ridden and contagious, but the kind of sick that tangles up your mind and fogs your logic and self control. On the outside, sometimes I’m sure I look perfectly fine with my mechanical smile and makeup on. but on the inside I’m all cobwebs and dust. And no matter how hard I try to get myself out of the house, and how good I may look to those around me, every motion I go through in the run of a day isn’t without pain and suffering.
For the majority of my career I have worked in student affairs at the post secondary level, where mental illness and people in crisis are almost an every day conversation. I really thought I understood what mental illness was before. I honestly had no idea. I didn’t know to the extent that a person could be sick, while remaining perfectly healthy.
I ran into one of my coworkers from the University where I worked before my current role. It was the first time I had seen her since shortly before I went on maternity leave. We had worked very closely together for two years and shared the same office space in that time, so we know each other quite well. In our discussion she pointed out to me that I shouldn’t feel guilty for being away from work, and taking time to heal myself right now. I have always been the kind of person who was willing (and quite often did) stay into the wee hours of the morning to make sure my students received the very best care. And now, I had to be willing to do the very same thing for myself. I don’t have a cough, or a cold, or even a bad back or high blood pressure. My sickness, and my problem isn’t something that can be seen on an X-ray, or in a blood test. And to a lot of people, they’re probably wondering what could possibly be wrong because I don’t LOOK sick.
My awesome group of doctors and psychologists have diagnosed me with reactive depression, generalized anxiety, mild agoraphobia and post traumatic stress. I am a strong person. I always have been. Having Everlee hasn’t changed that. Being sick doesn’t mean I am not strong, it just means I am so very tired from having to be so strong for far too long. As I posted on Facebook a couple of nights ago “You never know how strong you can be, until being strong is the only choice you have”. I am so lucky I have an amazing group of people that I work with that understand what mental illness means, and how much I need this time to heal right now. I am no good to my students, if I am no good to myself.
As an update, I have now gone through mostly all of the tests I need to have to start the fertility treatments we need to make Everlee a big sister. I now only have to wait to see the Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFM) specialist. Unfortunately, because I am not already pregnant, and therefore not seen as high priority, I have a longer wait list to face to see her. There are only two MFMs in the health board, so my appointment isn’t until January 20th. That being said, my fertility doctor has gotten me onto a waiting list and hopefully I’ll be able to see her much sooner. I have made it known I can be there in 5 minutes if they need me to be.
It’s extraordinarily hard for me to feel like I am making any forward movement when I am teetering on this edge of uncertainty in terms on my fertility. I have said for a very long time, I won’t feel like I am moving forward until the fertility treatments start, and I still feel that way. I was born to be a mommy. And I am. I am Everlee’s mommy, which is more challenging than I had ever foreseen motherhood to be. I love her more and more every day, even if she isn’t here to feel that love herself. I have so much love to give my baby, so I look forward, and long for the day when I have a child in my arms, to be a little brother or sister to the baby I will always have in my heart.