April Love, Day 26 – Heart

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This April, I am participating in Susannah Conway’s April Love, a month of love letters. Using her predetermined prompts, I’ll be writing a love letter to an aspect of my life every day (well, maybe) in the month of April. Thanks for tagging along!

Dear Heart,

You are amazing.

Physically, you are the center of my life force. You keep things moving and I’ve never been more grateful to you for that than I am right now. I have never been more aware of you than I am right now, in the days since suffering a panic attack so severe that it had me convinced that I was having an actual heart attack. As if that wasn’t enough, getting fitted for a heart monitor just days later to explore the cause of some palpitations I’ve been feeling (and brushing off) for several months. I am tuned in to you now. I am respecting you. I am doing my best to nourish and care for you.

From an abstract perspective, you are a force to be reckoned with. You are a warrior. You have carried the weight of loss and heartache. You have borne the burden of sorrow and pain and yet, you help me to respond with love. Always, with love. Your capacity for such great and constant love in spite of pain and grief, or indeed perhaps because of it, is simply incredible. You teach me so much.

You are searching. Maybe it’s just me, or maybe everyone feels this way after loss, but I seem to constantly be aware of an emptiness within you. A hole that you are seeking to fill. Is it Clara’s spot? I honestly don’t know. This emptiness doesn’t cause me pain, per say. It doesn’t lend itself to any sensation of discomfort. Perhaps the best way to describe its affect would be to say that it drives me. It’s as if my heart is looking for the final flower to complete a perfect arrangement. I am, truthfully, not sure what it is that you need, but I recognize your need for something.

I will stay open.

I will listen to you.

I promise.

With love, always –

Kelly

 

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April Love, Day 24 – Truth

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Dear Truth,

When I was a little girl, and life hurt too much, I hid from you. My creative mind found solace and relief in fantasy. I read books, wrote songs, wrote poetry. I used words, both mine and those of other people, to escape. Even to this day, my favorite books are the ones that are as far from my daily “truth” as possible. I love fantasy and sci-fi. I love period drama and historical fiction. Much like the little girl who was desperately trying to escape the pain of her own truth, I still love placing myself in someone else’s truth.

The difference is that, even though I still like to escape it from time to time, I now appreciate my own truth. I honor it. When something happens in my life which makes me uncomfortable or causes me pain, I don’t step back from it. I don’t throw my hands up in the air, assume an expression of disgust, and say “Oh, what is THAT?! Who does THAT  belong to?!” I’ve learned that some of my most incredible moments of personal growth, and some of the most powerful connections that I’ve made with other people, have come from owning the messy parts of my life. They have come from boldly owning the messiest parts of my truth.

A funny thing happens too, when you decide to stop pushing away the mess and instead you invite it in for a cuppa. It doesn’t seem so bad. Love is funny like that. When you start to live lovingly, most especially towards yourself, the sharp edges of things seem to soften. Choosing to own your whole truth, even the icky parts, is like choosing to love or at least appreciate it and truly, if you love something, it will change the way it impacts you.

Today, which happens to be my 31st birthday, seems a fitting day to reflect on all the love I have for my truth. I am sitting here at my dining room table, the only one awake in my household, with a cup of coffee and my laptop. The morning sun is warm on my skin, as it pours in through the dining room window. It promises a beautiful day full of truths that will be easy to love. Truths about family, truths about aging, truths about health and happiness and bikes and flowers.

So, my truth, you are one hell of a story to tell. I’m so glad that I get to be the one that tells you. In regards to the low points… well, they’ve hurt. Some of them continue to hurt, even after years have passed. Like ripples on the surface of a still pond, I think they will hurt for a while. These days, however, I’m not hiding from them. Every ripple brings a lesson, and I’m counting them as they pass. Counting them,  learning from them, and wrapping my arms tightly around this beautiful, messy truth of mine.

Love,

Kelly

Heart Monitor Chic

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Soooo, I have to wear a heart monitor for 30 days. I’m FINE, but I been havin some weird funky heart beats that my doc wants to get to the bottom of. (She did not accept my suggestion that perhaps I am just funky to my core.) It only happens every other week or so, which is why I have to wear this confounded thing for so long. SO, if you see me in the next 30 days, YES I am excited to see you, but it’s actually a heart monitor in my pocket. ❤

Also, those of you who know me well, know my love for naming inanimate objects and I am now taking submissions of names for my new friend. Go.

Climb Out Of The Darkness

Did you know…

Each year, MORE women will experience Postpartum Mood Disorders (PPMD) than people will have strokes. MORE women will experience PPMDs in a year, than people will experience a sprained ankle.

Shocking, isn’t it?

1 in 7 women will face a postpartum mood disorder, like Postpartum Depression, Postpartum Anxiety/OCD or Postpartum Psychosis, and yet they still fly under the radar, receiving too little research, screening and funding.

But here’s the real shocker, only 15% of those women will receive treatment. FIFTEEN PERCENT!!! That means millions of women go undiagnosed. They suffer in silence. Even worse, their children suffer, too. Research has shown that untreated maternal mental illness affects the development of children, and puts them at a higher risk of future psychiatric illness themselves. On top of that, untreated maternal mental illness causes far too many Mamas to leave this world too soon.

My battle with Postpartum Anxiety & OCD began the moment that Silas was placed into my arms. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the information that I needed in order to get help. I believed that everyone cried all the time, thought obsessively about all the terrible things that could happen to their children and had to say a specific sentence to their baby every night or else they wouldn’t wake up in the morning. Well, sort of. I knew SOMETHING didn’t feel right, but I was too scared and uninformed to be able to do anything about it. What’s more, I trusted in our medical care providers and, since I was passing the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression screening repeatedly at well baby check ups, I assumed that I must be normal. Turns out I didn’t have Postpartum Depression, but rather Postpartum Anxiety and OCD, so the PPD screening was not sufficient to raise any red flags. (This is why more research needs to be done in order to develop more thorough and accurate screening methodologies!)

Thankfully, I have an incredible husband who, after watching me suffer for 2 years, kept on pushing me to find help, until I finally did. Finding a therapist who understood what I was experiencing, put a name to it, and, even better, lifted me out of the darkness, was like breathing fresh air again after being locked underground.

The reason I was able to get that help? Postpartum Progress.

This organization provided me the tools I needed to understand what I was experiencing and the resources I needed to get help. I owe more than my gratitude to them. It was so bad, and I was so exhausted and defeated that, had I not found help when I did, I would not be writing this to you today. It is because of them that I am still alive. Gratitude will never be enough. I owe them my life.

So, here we come to the point of this little pow wow. I’m asking for you to make a donation. On June 18, 2016, I will be joining women all over the country to Climb Out Of The Darkness. This annual fundraiser, created by Postpartum Progress is so much more than a way to raise money, though. It shines light on an oft invisible illness. It brings women together who have suffered uniquely, and who in turn, understand each other uniquely.

Your donation helps Postpartum Progress to continue the important advocacy work that they do. Your donation helps Postpartum Progress save more women and children. Women and children like me and Silas. I hope that you will make a contribution. Even better, if you’re local, feel free to come walk with me (you must register first)! This event is not just for survivors of PPMD, but for their loved ones and support networks, too! All the information you need, whether for donating or registering, can be found at the link below, or by clicking here.

Lastly, I love you. Thank you for being here. Thank you for supporting me as I continue to battle maternal mental illness. Postpartum Progress brought me out of the darkness, but YOU, all of you, are the light that shines on me, day after day.

All my love.

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April Love, Day 14 – Courage

This April, I am participating in Susannah Conway’s April Love, a month of love letters. Using her predetermined prompts, I’ll be writing a love letter to an aspect of my life every day (well, maybe) in the month of April. Thanks for tagging along!

Dear Courage,

I don’t allow myself enough credit for knowing you. In fact, someone told me just a few weeks ago, that she thought I was the most courageous person she had ever met, but it felt like she was talking to someone else. I felt thin. It felt as though someone stronger and more deserving must surely be standing behind me, and I was just the veil through which her compliment was passing.

I think it’s normal for people to not give themselves enough credit for feats of courage and strength. After all, when you are living through terrible things, nothing you do feels particularly impressive. You are just doing what needs to be done.

However, when I spend some time thinking about it, I realize that I know you quite well. Don’t I? I’ve called upon you many times. You were at my side, decades ago, when I shut a toxic family member out of my life, choosing instead to live with a smaller family circle, but one that was consistently loving and supportive. You were by my side when I finally, after years of silence, opened up about having been raped. You were with me when I battled a health scare. When I stepped into my role as Stepmom. When I delivered my first baby.

I called on you as I battled Postpartum Anxiety and OCD. It was you, courage, who kept me searching for answers when I knew something was wrong. It was you who gave me the strength needed to dial the number of a therapist. You moved my body to her office, one step at a time. You pushed my voice out of my mouth and shaped the words which formed a confession, revealing the truth of my emotional and mental state. You paved the path to healing.

I felt you again, when we learned about Clara. I felt you squeezed between the palm of my hand and that of my husband. We called on you together then, our hands grasped tightly, clinging to each other as we clung to you. We shared you. You helped us through the days.

I feel you now. It seems silly to say, but when you are grieving and battling mental illness, even the most mundane things require an element of courage. Things like going to bed, or waking up and starting a new day. Nothing is a given, and I need you every day.

Courage, thank you. Thank you for being here when I need you. Thank you for never leaving. Thank you for making me the kind of person that someone else finds encouraging.  Thank you for making me the kind of person that someone feels compelled to call courageous. I still feel wildly undeserving of that honor… but I’m working on it.

 

Love,

Kelly

 

April Love, Day 12 – Future Me

Dear Future Me,

 

I just told Past Us that it’s all going to be worth it.

 

…don’t make me eat my words.

Love,

Kelly

April Love, Day 8 – Younger Me

This April, I am participating in Susannah Conway’s April Love, a month of love letters. Using her predetermined prompts, I’ll be writing a love letter to an aspect of my life every day (well, maybe) in the month of April. Thanks for tagging along!

Dear Younger Me,

Shit, girl. Where do I begin? I mean, I’d act like some sage guru, but the truth is I don’t fucking get any of this shit anymore than you do! Ahem, sorry. As you can see, the years have not eroded our love of vocabulary intensifiers. Seriously though, I’m still kind of just flailing through life, one day at a time. However, one thing that I think the passage of time has brought to me, is that I don’t care so much about understanding it all. Time seems to have gifted me the trust that things will unfold properly.

Life very often feels like a puzzle with a perpetually missing corner piece. It’s frustrating, but somewhere along the way you learn to see the rest of the picture for what it is, missing piece be damned.

If I had to tell you one thing, it would be that the sooner you can stop looking for that missing piece, the faster life will feel whole.

That, and dump the idiots, because the best one just ends up falling in your lap without you even looking for him, you lucky girl. So just sit back and be patient, he’s so worth it. It’s ALL worth it.

Love you,

Kelly

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