Saturday, June 14, 2008

PPD Chronicles: The Next Step

It's Father's Day 2008...or nearly that. I am pondering next steps. Next steps in my life, career and faith.

It's been almost a year since my son was born. A year of opposites. I was thrilled to have an easy delivery (easy meaning I labored as long as I wanted then blessedly welcomed an epidural!). He nursed easily and quickly in the delivery room. He slept. I felt amazing, ready to go home the first day, yet staying to enjoy the quiet.

Shortly, the PPD gorilla moved in. He snuck in the back door behind my Super Mother facade. My naivete at believing "I did this once, surely I could do this again!" quickly was shattered. The demands of a 4 year old, a newborn, work and life reduced me to a weepy, screaming, unwashed mess. The gorilla spent much of his time reminding me of my failures, what could go wrong and what a terrible mother I was. (See previous PPD Chronicles Chapters)

I got help. I got to praying. I got better. Slowly, I learned to ignore the gorilla. I have learned the echoes of his recriminating shrieks are only hormones or stress or too much sugar. This hard won peace isn't going anywhere.

If it does, I know to start back to group and therapy. I know I will not stop my medicine for at least 3 more months and only if I don't need it anymore. If I need it, for awhile, for forever, so be it.

I am thinking about next steps. I am standing at the base of a very tall and winding staircase. The staircase leads to my future. On one landing is the opportunity to do a job in a very different field with shifting boundaries and huge potential. On another is the security of continuing to work in youth development. I took the stairs less stepped upon. The Gorilla took the opportunity to stand on the safe stairs howling. "Remember when your car was repo'd? You can't afford to change your career now!" I can and I did.

On the next landing is a commitment to mental, spiritual, and physical health. On the other is the continuance of ignoring self to serve everyone, except self. "Therapy is a self indulgence," the Gorilla whispers as I ponder which tread to put my foot, "Taking medication is a crutch. Can't you just pray yourself better? And let's not talk about the number of oreos you've consumed or cokes you've knocked back." I shake him off. I have a ways to go in the diet department. I know that. I get it. So Oprah, back off, I'll live my best life in a little while. As far as my mental and spiritual health is concerned, I've tasted freedom and wholeness. I have learned what it is like to laugh and feel the joy seep into your heart. I have learned the cleansing of tears as liquid prayer. I have tasted and seen that the Lord is good. With a deep breath, I step towards the commitment to me.

I see other landings above me. They are a school for my son and a neighborhood in which to raise him and his brother. I can't see much further than that and somehow, someway, it's okay.

I kick the gorilla in the face and send him tumbling back down the stairs. He claws and tries to climb back up and finds the steps have turned into a ramp. I watch as he slides further and further out of sight. "Who do you think you are?" he howls, "You need me. You know me. I am you."

Not today. Not anymore. Not again. Who do I think I am? I don't know. But I am willing to take the next step to find out.

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