Not So Picture Perfect
Five years of medication.
Five years of a different reality.
Five years of the label, PPD.
Five years of a beautiful little girl.
Five years of a newfound strength.
Five years earning the title of Warrior.
This picture, along with two poems of mine, was published in the PATIENTS HAVE POWER magazine last December. PATIENTS HAVE POWER is published by Clara Health and is full of artwork, photography, poems and stories created by people who are patients. Clara Health connects patients with research studies and new treatment options and truly believes that patients have power.
Looking at this picture I took is a very powerful experience for me. After a couple years of taking daily medication for my PPD, I knew I wanted to save all the bottles, but I wasn’t sure why. As the bottles had piled up, it was too overwhelming for me to think about taking a picture or writing about my experience, so month after month I just put them all in a bag in the bathroom cabinet. As time passed, I weaned off the meds and life slowly became more manageable and more enjoyable. One day last fall I saw a Facebook post searching for contributions for a magazine and I knew then the picture I would take.
These bottles represent so many things to me. Mental illness. Many, many appointments. Many, many prescriptions. So many therapy sessions. So much money. Then, the side effects. Some you just live with and some that make you switch meds because they are so awful. Nausea, dizziness, sugar cravings, weight gain, insomnia, brain fog, more intrusive thoughts, feeling numb, no tears. Morning pills, nighttime pills. Take with food, take with water, take an hour after you eat, take two hours before bedtime, don’t be in the sun for too long, etc, etc, etc.
But, also, these bottles became my lifeline. These pills gave me my life back. They didn’t do it alone, but they played a big part in my recovery. Because of medication, I was able to finally sleep, finally focus, finally stop having intrusive thoughts, finally ENJOY being a mom.
I didn’t want to take medication. It made me feel weak and ashamed. It made my PPD real and something we needed to fix. I took the pills though because I wanted to be able to live my life and be the mom I knew I could be. I took the pills for five years and worked with my therapist and my naturopath to eventually wean off of all of them. Recovering from PPD while raising kids is the hardest thing I have ever done.
Warrior does sound fitting. Most days I feel pretty strong, especially when I think of the mountains I have climbed to get to this point. And then, there’s this little girl. A little girl who grew up with a mom with PPD. A mom with PPD who had to put herself first many, many times so that she could get out of bed and function the next day.
This little girl is strong and feisty and determined. She’s also kind and thoughtful. She’s a warrior like her mom and the whole thing is not so picture perfect, but that’s okay. Perfection doesn’t exist.
Evelyn does though and thankfully, so do I.