Then there’s the flip side to the coin. When things grind to a halt. When the hard stuff re-enters or starts to dominate the picture again. In those circumstances, thriving is replaced with something far more primal; survival. These past few days, I’ve entered survival mode and I’d forgotten just how much placing one foot in front of the other can take out of you.
When my post natal OCD collided with PND, back in 2o12, in the months after my son was born, I entered survival mode, almost without knowing it. Getting through each day. fighting through the fog in my head became my primary focus. I don’t think I realised just how much that fight was taking out of me until my body and mind completely started to implode, primarily from the exhaustion of fighting against my thoughts day in, day out. Through medication and therapy I was able to beat back the bad and start welcoming the good back into my life. My days became easier. I was able to focus on ‘normal’ stuff again. I don’t think there’s anyone out there who got as much pleasure as I did in being able to become completely absorbed in whipping up a batch of baby food from scratch, without being distracted every couple of minutes by the horror reel in my head. I still take huge pleasure in being able to enjoy and fully engage with the more mundane aspects of life, especially life with a little one. Being able to be completely present while my son is ‘making’ me a plastic bread and cheese sandwich or while we read together is something I’ll never take for granted.
While the past few days haven’t even touched the sides of what I once experienced, I’ve felt the same pangs that I once did. This time, it’s a physical ailment that seems to have caused the spiral into survival mode. Symphisis Pubis Dysfunction or SPD is a condition, often experienced during pregnancy, where the stiff joint that connects that two halves of your pelvis (aptly called the symphysis pubis), becomes inflamed and painful, due to a softening of the ligaments, ultimately to allow your baby to pass down and through your pelvis during birth. There a bunch of different symptoms but for me, it manifests as pain down the inside of my thighs and into my groin and pain in my lower back. Movements that require your legs to move too far apart (like getting out of the car), become tricky and sleeping is a bloody nightmare, primarily due to the pain worsening, especially while lying down. Trying to roll over in bed without experiencing a sharp ache that shoots from your groin into your back is impossible and getting out of bed to go to the loo is up there with torture.
I had SPD with my son and so expected that I might have it again this time around. It started in my first pregnancy at 18 weeks and I was pleasantly suprised, smug even, when I flew through into the 27th week of this pregnancy without any issues. Ohhh how silly I was. Last week, the telltale symptoms began rearing their ugly heads and I’ve now fallen, utterly and completely, down the SPD rabbit hole. While the pain when I’m up and moving around isn’t great, it is, thank God, manageable. It’s the nights that have done me in. I haven’t been able to manage a restful nights sleep for the past few nights and that seems to be causing me as much grief as the condition itself.
Sleep deprivation has a funny impact on the brain. I know I’ve been deprived of decent rest when I get out of bed with itchy eyes. The feeling of wanting to burst into tears (and generally following through, multiple times a day) usually follows and I seem to struggle to make even the most simple decisions. With my tendency towards anxiety, a lack of sleep generally triggers the onset of an anxious state of mind where I start to become increasingly edgy. The ‘what if’s’ start to appear out of nowhere, followed by the usual string of doubts; ‘I don’t know if I can do this.’ ‘What if this gets worse and worse? How will I manage the next 12+ weeks?’ ‘How can I be a good mother when I can barely decide what we should have for breakfast?’ It’s the mental response to the physicality of what I’m experiencing; painful, unpleasant and not all together curable, at least not immediately.
This is where I’ve been at today and it’s been a real walk down memory lane. Certainly not a walk I’d choose to take willingly BUT it has, in a round about way, served as a potent reminder of a couple of things.
- I’ve been reminded of just how far I’ve come since April 2012 when my world started to crumble around me.
- I’ve been reminded of the fact that I’m much, much stronger than I give myself credit for.
- I’ve been reminded of the absolute love I have for my son. This morning, when I literally wondered how I would get off the kitchen floor, it was him who helped guide me back up again.
- I’ve been reminded that it’s ok to ask for help. To be vulnerable and honest. To say ‘actually everything is a bit shit,’ and not be embarrassed by it.
- I’ve been reminded that things can’t always be exactly the way you want them but that that’s ok.
- I’ve been reminded that there’s a chance that things may not change or improve as quickly as I’d like but that that that’s ok.
- I’ve been reminded that things are going to get crazy come June and that I’ll need my tool-kit of coping strategies along with the support network onside to ensure that things stay on the up and up. I’ve known for awhile that I need to work out a few key coping mechanisms for the sleep deprivation that comes with a newborn (not to mention a toddler and the whole work thing) and I now know that it’s really important that I follow through and get an action plan in place.
- I’ve been reminded that, even on when every fibre in my being is whispering that it’s all too hard, there’s a stronger part whisper/shouting one word: survive.
I’d love to hear what survival mode looks like for you. How do you cope when things go a bit pear shaped? Any hints or advice?
Image found HERE