The Black Dog…

Ok, so please go easy on me.

I decided to put this here – I wanted to do it yesterday, but it was April Fool’s Day, and this is not a joke. Depression is not a joke. In Ireland I’ve often seen it called the Black Dog. I get the idea that it follows you around endlessly but still …seems a little cruel on dogs. My depression sprang up like an aggressive weed six months after I gave birth to my first child. I think most people were surprised, thinking I was out of the danger zone for PND by then. I had an autumn baby which meant long winters stuck indoors at home with my baby and I was genuinely exhausted after six months and the reality of life being changed forever was really sinking in. I was grateful to God for my baby, don’t misunderstand me; I just went from feeling exhausted but happy, to exhausted but depressed; mentally paralyzed; numb; a crushing weight in my mind. It was like the tide seeping in slowly-  wave by wave until you’re drowning.

It lasted about 5 months, and then it just slowly lifted. No medication, no formal therapy, just slowly trying to tell myself that I have to be better for her. I have to make a choice – to live or….Well let’s not finish that. And so I chose to live for love. It didn’t vanish overnight. It just slowly seeped out of me until I was free of its muddy grasp. I thank God that happened. It makes a surprise visit now and then; an unwelcome visitor that I have to fight back out the door.

Anyway, I’m no poet, but I wrote this just after I started feeling better. It has a lot of personal meaning. So please, go easy on me!

The Girl In The Door

At the kitchen table

Could you see what I see?

Out the glass door

I doubt it, really

I’m not looking at flowers

I’m looking at me

Or the reflection I see

Pretending she’s me

Where did my self go

I don’t really know

She’s so dull and so dreary

There’s no healthy glow

Her skin is like ash

Her hair is like rope

Her eyes are like stones

I can no longer cope

It’s hard to say that

I wish you could guess

How low my soul is

Paralysis

The blue sky is charmless

The world is a hole

I’m sinking so swiftly

Silently, unknown

My mind is like ice

Just frozen no thoughts

Please don’t tell me

To go out for a walk

I’m empty, a shell

Trapped and voiceless

In this paralyzed hell

My tea is gone cold

Milk films on the top

How long have I been here?

Time does not stop

Except in my head

It no longer exists

Just a black space expanding

And endless grey mists

How long has she been here

The girl in the door

She whispers back at me

That she’s not really sure

But it’s been a long time

And she’s tired, heart-sore

She doesn’t want to be with me anymore

Can I leave? she asks me

Her eyes dead as stone

I can see she’s in pain

Would be cruel to say no

But the baby is crying

Right here at my breast

And she needs me so much

That I just can’t say yes

Tears on my cheeks

How long I don’t know

A dam is broken

An endless flow

My heart rises up

I look down at her face

Now peaceful, now sleeping

Innocence, grace

I must try, try, try

to get strong for her

But I’m silently haunted

By the girl in the door

I hear you come in now

I feel bad for you

I know it’s not easy

To come home to these two

One is a shadow and one is a shade

And neither are keeping the bargain we made

Your hands wipe my tears now

Your kiss soft and warm

The look in your eyes is so fretful, careworn

I can see that you know now

And I don’t have to say

How hard it is

To get through the day

You hold me and hold me

And slowly I feel

The ice starting to melt

Am I flesh, am I real?

Your love says I am

And that you still see me

Through the ash, rope and stone

To me, to ME

Am I still worth loving?

Your caress says I am

Can I get my self back?

-Yes, one step at a time

I don’t know the steps

-Just follow my lead

I lay my head on your shoulder

-One day you’ll be freed.

Relief fills my heart

I want to believe

What do you see love?

I ask you to look

And the answer you give me

Lifts my heart up

-I see my beautiful wife

-And my daughter so fine

-And I thank God each day

-That He made you both mine

And where is she gone

The girl in the door?

I don’t know, I can’t see her

She’s not here anymore

She slipped away silent

While you held me so close

In her place is a picture

Of love and repose

The girl in the picture is finally me

And the girl in the door is finally free.

 

 

 

 

 

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Maintaining your sense of Self

I’m full of anticipation at the moment. I feel like I’ve walked into an open soft meadow, the promise of a lush fertile space where the mind is free to wander and create, a new beginning.

This is for two reasons: firstly, I’ve been made redundant from my job this week and secondly, I’ve started this blog. I was recruited straight after university, and stayed with a global telecommunications company for more than 11 years. Before that I worked part-time throughout uni and also in the last few years of school. I never quit for exams or finals.

So it’s a little bit scary in so far as I’m not used to seeing no money coming in every month as it has been for the last 18 years. Wow.. I had a little shudder there when I wrote ’18 years’…it’s been so long! I started work in my mid teens. I went from waitress to sales assistant to call centre staff to project co-ordinator to business analyst to solution and technical IT architect with a bit of project management along the way.That’s the sum total of my working life. Sounds ridiculously simple when totalled in one sentence but I spent many hard years working my way up, with long hours and sleepless nights from stress.

And now my job is going to be full time stay at home Mammy. Scary! I’m a bit afraid my brain will shrivel up like a prune. So to keep me mentally challenged and to keep a sense of myself I decided to open a blog and write my thoughts and ideas  here. At the same time it’s very liberating to be “out-of- work”. (Motherhood doesn’t seem to qualify to a lot of people!) My family was crumbling at the edges under the stress of both parents working before my maternity leave. We were up at 6 am, to go to the child minder by 7 to be in work by 9am (my job was 70 kilometres and two major motorways away). Not returning until 6 in the evening for me and 7 for hubsy. Coming home to a cold untidy house, cooking awful food that was just quick and convenient, getting my daughter to bed by 8 latest (she needed to be there by 7.30 but we wanted a little more time with her) and spending weekends doing the never ending cycle of cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping and having very little time or energy for anything else was just sucking the soul out of us.

I’m finishing up my second maternity leave now after the birth of my son and I was dreading re-entering that cycle. Babies are exhausting but bring a lot of inner joy and this is a welcome exhaustion –  ‘this too shall pass’ is constantly repeated in whispers in the depth of night when it feels criminal to be awake. It is the driftwood we are clinging to as we drown in a sea of nappies, teething, toddler tantrums and colicky baby cries. But honestly I love parenthood! 🙂

Anyway, here I am, newly redundant, and I love that we can now afford for me to be a stay-at-home mother for a while longer at least. I want to make use of this time as best I can, expand my horizons a little. And those of my children. Writing a blog makes you very self-conscious of every word you write, every thought you have so I hope that doesn’t become overwhelming. I hope I don’t lose my ‘self’ in the blog by adjusting everything out of worry how I’ll be perceived. That would make the whole exercise pointless. This blog is going to be my own little studio since I don’t have much time to go to the gym or go to classes. It’s so easy to get lost in the cycle of life around the children. I’d love to hear any comments from other stay at home Mams or Dads on how you keep your sense of ‘self’ ?