For The 22 We Lose

 

For him some days are harder than others. Behind the green eyes I fell in love with is another time and place that I cannot go. Hidden deep within his heart so very broken are the lives that have made him unbreakable. The men whose names are forever etched in his mind and closer still as he paces, smoking…

Some things are best kept between him, God and his infantrymen. A loss that I can never fathom but that I have felt, often, as he sleeps – at times running to those he’s lost, to the one he still searches for. In all these many years there are finally heavy moments which quickly fade…or so he would have me believe. I know it is the silence he fears. That quiet goodnight that allows the demons he fights to strengthen. Still after all this time he wakes to check on his brothers. Like a photograph – he lives in a world paused by the scars he has endured. The body he pushed to save all those beside and behind is now turning on him. His heart beats harder, faster. His new knees buckle. His back aches.

 

For several years after I met my husband I saw his struggle with the service he chose and the severe PTSD he did not. It is never easy to watch someone we love make an enemy of themselves and as a result…those that love them.

Through it all his ability to laugh at himself and the shit and mire he went through with his brothers was unchanged, and is what I love most about him. Bravo and I have spent many long nights talking about those he has served with, and in many ways still carries the load for. Loyal and tough, my husband has done well hiding his pain from us, but it lingers behind his smile and beautiful eyes.

As with most of the brave men he has served with the desire to remain in the fight ebbs and flows with the tide. The internal conflict between his sense of duty and the resounding effects of being abandoned by the government and civilians whose freedom he chose to fight for does not leave him. There is rarely a night that his battle goes quiet while he sleeps.

My husband decided to write down the angst bottled up over the years a long time ago but his heart had always stopped him, or the symptoms of his PTSD would be just enough to push him from the paper. When he finally dove in I was proud of him. I understood the long sleepless nights ahead would in the long run be healing…even if in the short term I knew the man I love would fight his demons all over again.

It is never easy to stand by while our husbands relive these stories, and writing them, reading them over and over takes its toll. My husband has lost years to his past and his present is once again filled with nights pacing our deck. Tears for those moments he will never share but that play like a broken record in his mind. He keeps going for his fellow men, and for those that can’t tell their own story. He has shared many things with me over the last 17 years, but to read of the life that most nights haunt him, well, truly breaks my heart…but never have I been more honored to be his wife.

I am not sharing this for what I feel is deserved gratitude for my husbands service but for the battles that never left him and for those who’s fight with combat related PTSD has ended needlessly. 22 United States Veterans commit suicide each day. In 24 hours, 22 amazing human beings will have their struggle end and for the people who love them, a new struggle begins. 22 men and women-fathers/sons/brothers, mothers/daughters/sisters die each and every day fighting with the same heart beat as my husbands. Wives like me lose their best friends and children like ours will never again get to hear their fathers laugh. Their deaths are not to be ignored and their lives still stand for those they protected even in such tragic loss. Their sacrifice is not in vain. Their beautiful souls simply couldn’t contain what they felt every moment of every day – saving those who wanted a life of freedom and choice – while seeing the very worst of humanity.

I love you my sweet husband. Do not think I don’t see you struggling tonight. I am here, always. I will never give up on you. Thank you for standing tall, and for showing me what it is to be human.

*Please take the time to watch this. Thank you.*

 

 

 

 

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A Dash of Hope…

 

 

A simple ‘Sorry‘ does not seem to accurately portray how I feel about the first year of your life my sweet darling son. Though you are so wanted I find it hard to want to be here. I know when you nurse in the middle of the night, that as you caress my face so lovingly you feel the moisture my tears have left there as they stream down my face. It’s not because of you I promise. They are weeping from deep within my sad heart FOR you. I cherish your kisses you share with me after your bath time, when you wake every morning. I adore that you hold my face still just so you can look into my soul. I wonder if perhaps you do see the mama I long to be, to feel like, rather than the mother I more often than not seem to be. Thank You for loving me when I feel so unworthy of such a gift. You are most precious to me my darling son. When I walk into our room to pick you up from your naps, you light up like the lilies in our garden as they follow the Suns light in the morning. All that joy just at the sight of me – it melts my heart. Thank you for finding happiness in me, in our kitchen dancing sessions. I’m so glad you’re not a picky listener…as I sing off key…and you still hum along to our favorite songs. You never seem worried that I won’t be here, for you, even when I feel so far away. I hope that never changes, as most days it is my saving grace. Your laugh reminds me of your fathers, and beyond that your grandfathers. You must be a very old soul to understand the things you do and see, and still laugh so whole-heartedly. Your patience takes my breath away my darling son. Always waiting for your mother to wipe her tears, always with the knowledge that you are my reason to keep going.

 

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I use to have the most terrible dreams when we were one. Dreams that all the things the doctors were telling me could happen did happen, and yet, so perfect was your smile, your heart, your tiny beautiful body when you were born. All the tests, and all the ultrasounds could not quiet this fretful mind I have. Forever lingering on the first words rather than the last of each specialist that kindly tried to calm my fears and assure me that you were healing inside of me. I counted the days until your healthy arrival, and then, suddenly when you were about one month in age – I started to weep at what I thought was a case of built up fears and stress finally allowing themselves to be released – having been given the ‘all clear’ at the sight of your glossy eyes staring into mine. The weeping never stopped. And now here I am, with you, thankful and without a way to show it. I tell you daily that I am, because I feel you need to hear it. I need you to hear it. I’m so afraid that you don’t feel my love for you. Trembling with guilt that I haven’t done enough as the sun goes down to show you I’m still here fighting for us, our family, you. It may seem like it’s all for not just now my darling son, but with Gods grace and loving kindness – one day soon all the pain your mama holds back from her world will subside. And I will truly be here. And you’ll be waiting… my darling son.

There is much to be said about my life as a mother, your mother. It is a job I adore and am beyond thankful to have. I know so many women who do not have this and would give up everything to have a baby just like you…perfect in every way. That thought is never far from me. As I carefully toss and turn in the bed we share, I think about how I can do better, show more love, be more patient and kind. It dawned on me this morning before the sun was even up…you are the example God has given me. For you are my inspiration, the vibrant ying to my tattered yang. The banana to my peanut butter. The best of me. I love you my darling son. I’m not here yet, but I’m not going anywhere…I promise.

 

 

The List I don’t need…

So   a-p-p-a-r-e-n-t-l-y   there are ‘stages’ in the downward spiral that is postpartum depression. I am sad to say I am still stuck in the third stage.

Stages of Postpartum Depression are as follows:

1.) Denial (nope, not me!)

2.) Anger (kick rocks, you!)

3.) Bargaining (rock,paper,scissors…loser gets my brain)

4.) Depression (life is like a box a poop, as it all stinks)

5.) Acceptance (of what…a case of the crazies??)

(I know I can’t possibly be alone when I think to myself ‘seriously!’… Because I feel those things, all of them, like a broken revolving door that just won’t stop spinning. Or maybe like a dryer stuck spinning, as the linens get hotter and hotter – until they begin to melt, the alarm sounds and the Sears guy comes to take it far away, to the appliance graveyard.)

Trying to gamble my way off of this ferris wheel of gloom, doom and exhausting/sleepless nights I have come to the following conclusions-

*There’s no place like home/can I install an escape catch please?

*I need to spend quality time with my kids/is it acceptable to spend all our money on a babysitter for the foreseeable future?

*There is a desire to be held by my husband/but can’t it wait? I’m exhausted…

*I should try to focus on caring for myself/why is it a bad thing that I wore the same pajamas for three sleepless nights/days?

*For my families sake I need to get over this so I can care for them/can’t I just sit here and watch them fumble through it without me?

*Maybe tonight I’ll cook a nice sit down meal and we can all be together/one more night of frozen pizza while I just sit here like a piece of petrified wood won’t hurt them will it?

 

So yes, I’m bargaining with my daily to-do list and how to get out of this without getting help for this from reliable and trusting professionals. Here’s why –

Because I’m stuck at stage three, and all the while I’m filled with with anger that I can’t just get over this.

Because I’m so sad it feels like I’ve been drowning in my own tears and that makes me depressed.

Because I have hormone imbalances I’m a fricking burn pit filled with all but the acceptance – just smoldering away, waiting for SOMEONE ELSE to come along and either pour gasoline on me or douse me with water.

Because I really am struggling with this mental illness and my own husband doesn’t get it, won’t listen, can’t help, but probably would if he could just UNDERSTAND that I’m scared, and absolutely need him, and that I can’t do this alone. I’m not throwing a tantrum. I’m not four years old. I’m hurting. I can’t change it, can’t stop it….

 

I’m going to be okay right? Yes, in time. But in the mean time, I don’t feel like it just now. I want a get-out-of-this-prison-for-free card and a stamp on my forehead that says ‘cured’ so that when I look into my own badly broken mirror the reflection will look it even if I don’t feel it.

 

 

A Spoonful of Sadness…

 

(I’d like to apologize in advance for this post. Typically I try like hell not be this person. I’m sorry.)

 

 

I am trying not to break, really I am. I lay in bed awake, sometimes until 3:30 or 4:00 in the morning praying that I don’t die, because I don’t want these last few months to be the way my children remember me. I cry in my closet. It’s not even one I can walk in to, so I just lean into my sweaters and wipe my face with their sleeves. (It sounds so pathetic…and it is…really.)

When my son JJ was born (he’s 6 now) I had a bad case of the baby blues for about three months. I just cried. Good, bad, anything changing in my bubble of a life and I would weep. Stress was manageable, but challenging…like undoing duct tape with wet fingers.

*I have tried not to write this, as over the last few years I really have been working on being the woman who chooses to see the goodness, the sweetness my life gives me. My optimism is what keeps me hopeful, and filled with desire for each tomorrow.*

 

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I can’t do this, I think to myself. But I keep going and act as if I’m fine…which seems to be working in my favor. Short of the mess that is my house (which is easily explained away with the sheer volume of humans and pets living under our roof) no one says anything that makes me wonder if perhaps they know I’m struggling with severe, debilitating and at times terrifying postpartum depression…and have been for the better part of a year.

I just don’t have the words to write this. My desire to be held, well it just cuts through those words and leaves them empty and dangling like wet, freshly cut grass.

I’m not detached from my beautiful baby, by Gods grace. From the moment I saw him there was this intense infatuation I could feel…all the way to my very soul. My depression came on slowly. I have no love lost…but being here (though I know it’s my depression) all day and every night…here…alone with this beautiful little boy is so hard to do right now. I nurse him, I sleep with him, eat with him. He touches my face with those small loving hands and I want to escape. This feeling is killing me. The shame, the heartache…it’s inescapable. It’s torture. I feel like I’m dying inside and nobody can hear my screams for help. I don’t want to kill myself, although the immense guilt for feeling these emotions make me want to die. I just want it to stop.

I am exhausted. I don’t want to eat, or be. I eat pounds of food when no one is watching and when they are I feel ill for doing it. I don’t know why. I eat so I can nurse and for no other reason at this point. I missed my baby’s first adventure at the park. I missed his first push on a swing on Easter Sunday. I didn’t care until I realized what I had missed, and felt so sad that I was happy for the time alone, even if all I did was clean. (Why can’t I just be fucking happy, get over it.)

 

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This monster, it shadows me, it haunts my waking hours with a fear I can’t describe. It’s horrific the things I find myself pondering about. I find myself saying things like “If something happens to me…” – I taught my daughter how to bathe her baby brother ‘just in case’…

The kids have clean clothes, and they’re fed. There are dishes to eat out of…and it takes everything I have to make that a reality. I haven’t done homework with JJ for well over a month. I can’t remember the last time I painted with my child, or just sat and let myself be consumed with joy by my daughter Birdie’s desire to just be with me. It feels smothering.

I wish I could sit down and say “I need help. I think I need hospitalization. Please help me.” Instead I started cutting myself…just to feel anything other than this. I’m a fucking wreck. I just want to have someone hold me. Let me cry. Help me.

My husbands job ended today, and I’m sure he will be disappointed if he reads this. I’m just letting him and our family down…again. And now I’m crying. God help me. I’m a failure. Miserable in this world of lost battles, whispers of loneliness, having been broken and betrayed by the mind and body that carried the same human beings I would die to protect, to be with. Ironic.

It’s times like this that I wish we had family here. I could use some family love. Help. Rest. I need someone to come kick my ass back into proper order, before I emotionally damage my beautiful family – because I am fine with me being damaged, but they won’t be.

*I feel like a fraud.*

I do have times of clarity where I muster up what reserves of energy I have to do things like mopping, vacuuming, grocery shopping. I sit and play with the baby everyday, no phones or tv, and laugh while I’m crying inside. I really do try to hide it from him. I want him to feel safe in his new and amazing world. I don’t want him to feel even an ounce of my suffering.

Our family means the world to me and I don’t understand (even though medically speaking I have a full understanding) why I can’t get myself out of this. I don’t understand why the thoughts are so persistent that they are drowning out the love I know is in there…somewhere.

I want my little bit of heaven back.

 

 

 

It can be Different

I wanted to address an issue that some women/men with anxiety/depression experience at some point in their lives. Suicidal thoughts, and at times, the sad reality of taking their own life.

For those that do not suffer from any mental illness I envy you, and I want you to be educated. It only takes one brave action to save a life, and one choice of indifference to lose a life.

For many of us, anxiety is exhausting. Our body longs for rest, peace. Our minds tell us we cannot stop, not even for a moment. Our thoughts are shaped by our fears, unknowns and the agony of our self-inflicted isolation. We do not isolate ourselves because we choose to, rather, it is a means to survive. Our depression makes us feel unworthy of your time, your love.

Often, in our need to remain in control it is at the cost of our ability to find that line that separates health vs. harm. There is no right or wrong way to ‘be’ for us, but we know when we begin to stumble long before you see it. It is not our fault we are this way, it is not something we can just snap out of. It is more and more engrained in us if we feel judged, or like a burden.

If you know someone that has become isolated, stops going out, retreats from his or her normal life, be an advocate for them. They are loved and they need to know it. I have found that it is usually those hurting the most that hide it so very, very well. They can smile while when they feel like they are dying inside. If you know someone struggling, please, reach out. Let them know you’re there.