Tuesday, November 4, 2014

When Forwards Feels Backwards {On Depression, Pregnancy, & Other Things}

This summer was hard.  Hard.

It shouldn't have been.  Everything lined up.  My son was napping regularly and sleeping well, not to mention continuing to exponentially grow in cuteness daily.  I had time for creating -- lots of time, in fact.  I traveled -- alone! -- to a writing retreat and got to meet some of my dearest kindreds.  The weather wasn't too oppressively hot, much to my relief.  I was in good physical shape, doing dance workouts that fed my soul as well as tended my body.

It should have been a glorious summer.

But it wasn't.  It was hard.  Damn hard.

* * *

In June, I stopped taking my depression medication (under medical supervision).  At first, everything was okay.  Great, even.  But then my eyes started leaking all. the. time.  And then I got tired.  Really tired.  And soon after that, the iconic what's-the-point's set in.

And the summer that should have, could have been wonderful felt like a forced march with no known destination. 

Most of all, creating was hard.  Sitting down to write or paint felt like an exercise in self-hatred.  It got to the point where I had to either step away or risk losing my love for these outlets entirely -- not to mention launching myself deeper into depression, and possibly back into eating disorder land.  This has happened before, and it's not an ordeal I care to repeat.

So I did.  I pulled back.  I spent more time at home, focused on snuggling my sweet son, and waited for fall.  Because surely the cool spice-scented air of fall would bring the refreshment and soul-growing it always seems to.

But it didn't.  And then I became pregnant.  It was (is) a planned and wanted pregnancy, but oh those first trimester hormones had me reeling more than I already was.

Now, though . . . now, I slowly feel myself coming back to my self.  There's something about pregnancy that, as the second trimester draws near, protects me from depression.  It's happened in my two previous pregnancies and, thankfully, seems to be happening again.  I'm finding some words, finding some energy, some much longed for want to.  And that is very good.

* * *


I look at this year that I called my fearless year, of all things, and only about one third of it so far feels fearless.  The first part of the year, I pushed every envelope I could get my hands on, challenged myself and my thinking, tried on new practices and ditched old ones, and set so many things alight in the renewing fires of needed destruction.

This summer, though?  I existed. And maybe, when depression comes back on the scene, maybe that's enough.  Maybe that's fearless.

But what it feels like is backwards movement.  Like I lost all the ground I'd taken.  Even writing these words, a thing that used to feel fluid and effortless, feels odd, awkward.

For the last year or so, I felt like I was in the midst of a battalion of lioness women charging up a mountain toward its pinnacle of freedom and authenticity and love and enough.  And now, it seems like all of those women are [awesomely!] continuing onward and upward, while I'm trying to extricate myself from a mud hole somewhere around halfway -- or worse, slipping back down in slide of scree.

And it's scary.  I wonder if I'll ever reach that peak.

* * *

But then I wonder -- maybe it's not about reaching the peak.  Maybe this isn't the peak that I'm supposed to be sweating and loving myself toward.

Maybe I'm supposed to be climbing another mountain entirely.

* * *

It's a funny thing about pregnancy -- that while it is a very real and literal growing, there's also an internal stripping away.  

It was most stark and obvious in my first pregnancy, which ended in an excruciating and incredible life-altering stillbirth, but happened with my second, too.  I came home with a beautiful baby boy tucked against my breast -- and a sense of my soul tearing away from itself and morphing into something new.

I already feel it happening this time around, and this time instead of being scared of it or flailing against it, I am trying to allow.  

Because maybe at the end of this pregnancy, I'll know if indie-publishing-mama truly is the present incarnation of my soul goals, or if I should be looking at some other work.  Maybe I'll have a clearer picture of who I am, and how I want to be that glorious woman.

Maybe I'll find the mountain I'm meant to climb.

* * *

That doesn't mean that depression will never rear it's ugly head again, of course.  But I've learned (the harder way) that I need medication to help me fight this very real disease, and that that's okay.  That my life, my mothering, my creativity, my courage, my everything are better when I'm getting the help I need.  

There is no shame in this.  I already knew that, but I was stubborn, didn't want to rely on what might be a crutch.  

But when you have a broken leg, you need a crutch.  And sometimes, when you have depression, you need medicine.

And while part of me hopes that when I start taking my medication again sometime after this pregnancy ends I will find myself back among the lionesses, growling and purring and climbing together, I have a suspicion that I very well might not.  That this part of my journey is perhaps more intimate, more solitary.

* * *

There's no good way to end this post, of course.  I'm still here, twelve weeks pregnant, incubating both this child's new life and my own, wondering.  I am wiggling my toes in the mud and keeping my eyes open for the next signpost to show itself to me on this odd and winding path.

It's a little early to be thinking holiday shopping, but holiday shipping is not to be toyed with, so make sure you order your Epiphany Art Studio holiday gifts by the end of November to guarantee delivery by Christmas!  Check out these yummy one-of-a-kind handmade poetry ornaments.  And don't forget my fabulous art originals, fine art prints, and the sale section! I'm also still offering signed copies of my sassy love story for people who don't like love stories, The Light Between Us.


  1. I love the raw honesty in all of your posts, it is refreshing, and a wonder to read.

    We are in a similar boat, with the only real difference being that I am not set on discovering who I am, I am set on CREATING who I want to be. That is a strange and frightening place for me to find myself. LOL.

    As far as the depression, I am certain I should be on medication, but if I am honest -- I am terrified to start on any.

    I love your brave brave Soul, thank you for sharing yourself with us. You are a beauty to behold.

  2. I can definitely see the difference between self-discovery and self-creation. Perhaps I need to move toward the latter...only problem is I'm hazy on the kind of person I want to create, and how to go about it. :P How do you know?

    I'd be curious to know what scares you about starting meds. Definitely it is a big step into the unknown, and it's not right for everyone. But I'm grateful that they exist for those who need them. <3

  3. It isn't about the mountain peak, its about the journey. Sometimes the journey involves getting lost or stuck in mud or even sliding back down. I climbed this volcano once, it was Cinder Cone, made up of all this volcanic rock, kinda like gravel. Every step I took up, I slid halfway back down. Each step only took me half as far as I wanted to go, but eventually I did reach the top, and the View was worth it. The thing about climbing mountains though, is eventually you climb back down, to start a new journey or a different climb. So maybe you are/were stuck, but facing that and acknowledging that is Fearless.

  4. I totally agree that the journey trumps the peak. I guess I'm thinking that right now I have a particular mountain climb, and then after I'll have another, and another, with maybe a couple of rivers and deserts and jungles and oceans to cross along the way, too. Maybe I'm in a desert now? I don't know. But I love your words. Also, CLIMBING A VOLCANO! What a cool thing!

  5. I think your Soul knows once you find the things that speak to you. I do know that I want to be free. I want to remove the limitations put on myself by other people, the ones that I have come to accept as my handicaps. Honestly, I am still working on figuring out everything else, but I know that I am not that person yet. I guess that is a good start ... for me anyways. LOL.

    I was on Zoloft for PPD right after I had Josiah, and it really screwed me up more than I already was. I guess I am afraid to deal with the side effects that might come from trying out meds until I find the right one *shrug*. I do think they have their place in society, and having BPD I know I should be on something to manage it, buuuuut. I just haven't been able to brave up and do it. :(

  6. "The thing about climbing mountains though, is eventually you climb back down, to start a new journey or a different climb"

    Oh I love that. So so much.

  7. That is a really good reason to be nervous to try another med. I would be for sure. <3

  8. death and rebirth and death and rebirth, again and again. I think often we have our expectations out of whack, like there's really an "arriving" instead of a perpetual "becoming".

  9. Oh, I know this! Not wanting a crutch but then acknowledging its value. All the yeses.

  10. oo! Disqus! new.
    love this. Love you. Keep incubating, and when the creativity dries up, remembering that you are creating new life inside you x

  11. holding onto that. because life matters, right? even in an overpopulated world? <-- things I am pondering

  12. In spite of the fact that pregnancy is frequently portrayed as a period of awesome delight, that is not the truth for all women.No less than one in ten pregnant women experiences episodes of depression.Depression and anxiety may go undiagnosed on the grounds that women regularly reject their feelings,chalking them up to the temporary moodiness that frequently goes with pregnancy.So don't be shy about letting your doctor know whether you feel low.Your emotional health is just as vital as your physical health.What's more,in fact,it can influence your physical health.Research has demonstrated,for instance,that depression and anxiety can increase your danger for preterm labor.Untreated,these conditions can hamper your capacity to care for yourself and your developing baby.



"I am glad you are here with me."
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King