For February my two intentions were:
Spruce up on the outside;
– Go for a make-up make-over;
– Buy some maternity clothes; and
– Take 20 mins each day to invest in looking nice.
– Go on at least one date per week with a close friend(s);
– Join a pregnancy fitness class; and
– Host a couple’s dinner with friends.
Intention one (1) seemed easy and enjoyable to accomplish. It did however remind me of the importance of investing just a little time and effort each day into feeling good on the outside. I also began to understand that my favourite mantra of “outer order contributes to inner calm” applied not only to my environment, but also my outer self.
Making sure I felt good about myself on the outside allowed me to focus more deeply on feeling good on the inside.
Intention two (2) was a little bit harder for me. Initially it looked like I was doing really well. I exceeded my intended actions for having at least one date with a close friend per week, and had two couples dinners, and another coming up this weekend. It was great – and I really did enjoy and value my time with each person.
I finally recognized that many of my failures in maintaining my relationships came from a lack of prioritizing them in my schedule. Always leaving the social aspect to fit in wherever there were free openings.
By planning my social events as a top priority this month, it suddenly became easy to schedule other things around those events.
Where it all fell off the rails for me was my intention to join a pregnancy fitness class. I procrastinated – big time. I knew this was the area where I was going to push myself to forge new friendships. It made me uncomfortable.
Finally I signed up for the only class that was being held in my area starting in February. The day it was scheduled to start I got a call saying there had been insufficient interest and it wouldn’t be running. I felt a wave of relief. Fate had just let me slip off the hook – at least for a little while.
I had anticipated this being a difficult area for me, so as a back-up plan I had signed up for a pre-natal labour and delivery class. It was a couples class, so I really wouldn’t be forced to interact with anyone else if I didn’t want too, and it was also only a single day class. It wasn’t exactly what I had in mind, and there was a big part of me that anticipated I was not going to achieve what I had been aiming for in a one day environment.
Sure enough, about two seconds after I walked into the room and took a moment to look around I had already made up my mind. There was no one in this room I was going to be friends with.
Really? How exactly did I know that?! I hadn’t even interacted with anyone yet! And yet there it was – clear as day in my mind – those exact words running through my head.
It was downhill from there. The class was great, but the instructor touched on a topic which I had been sensitive to throughout my pregnancy, and was starting to mount at the back of the mind as my due date got closer. The instructor was on the last topic of the day, Post-Partum Depression, and was talking about warning signs and symptoms for each of the pregnant woman’s partners to watch out for.
And during that topic, the trigger was just a few small words: “People who have had a history of depression, or experienced post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are at a higher risk of developing Post-Partum Depression.”
That was it. Then she moved on with further discussion. I cringed inwardly and felt a flutter in the pit of my stomach, and wondered what my husband was thinking. This wasn’t news to me. I’d read quite a bit about the higher chances early in my pregnancy, and then I had pushed the topic to the far-back reaches of my mind.
I took a deep breath and moved on. Or so I thought.
That night the moment I laid down in bed I felt my breathing become laboured. Ironically I was trying to read a book about emotions, and I struggled through about ten pages before realizing that I wasn’t actually reading anything. I was looking at the lines, trying to catch my breath, feeling my heart pounding in my chest, and seeing spots on the page.
Here it was, it had been waiting all day. Waiting for my mind to take a moment so it could run in and send it spiraling. And spiral I did. I put my book down, closed my eyes and focussed on my breath. At least, I tried to. I couldn’t catch my breath, and my brain was screaming at me. My husband tossed me a concerned glance and asked if I was okay, I casually brushed him off saying I was very hot.
And then came the flashbacks. One after the other – like a projected slide show of visuals.
I jumped out of bed and told my husband I was too warm and was going to go downstairs to cool off. I escaped just as the tears began pouring, before he realized what was actually happening.
I walked around the downstairs of our home for over an hour. Flashbacks ramping up, managing to calm myself, and then getting hit with another round. I knew it was because I was afraid. I was afraid that I was going to develop Post-partum depression, that I wasn’t going to be able to connect with my own baby the same way I struggled to connect with others.
I was afraid my husband might see that I didn’t quite have it all under control – that he might second guess my ability to be a mother. That he might worry that I was going to fall apart when it happened, and then what? That he might think I was crazy – the same way I myself thought I was crazy at that moment.
I had been doing so well. Or at least I had certainly been convincing everyone that I had been doing so well, even myself.
Finally after an hour I was exhausted and defeated. I knew I had no more tears to cry so I went back to bed and laid there for a few more hours, wrestling with my thoughts until I finally fell into a restless sleep.
I awoke around 4AM, just long enough to confirm my rational mind was back and wonder what the hell was wrong with me. How could this thing get the better of me even when I knew what was happening?
PTSD is the monster that hides under my bed, and it’s a very ugly thing.