Those dark circles in that picture are so real, and I even tried to edit the photo in a way so they were lessened and it didn’t work, obviously. This morning I started #c25k for the umpteenth time. Was it annoying to start at Day 1, again? Hell yes. Would I be back to running 6 miles with ease by now if I haven’t stopped? YES! But I’ve learned a few very important things about myself these last 10-12 months that makes none of those frustrations less of a weight to bare.
This past year has been a whirlwind. This time last year, I was getting ready for E’s return after his second six month deployment. I was seven months pregnant and celebrating the start of my third and final trimester. We were in a good spot in every way. We had no idea what the universe had in store for us in the coming months. April hit us like a ton of brick….houses. May through October was a matter of survival. E and I were both struggling with our emotional and mental health. Our marriage remained strong, but as individuals, we were really having a hard time to be and stay motivated to do anything. The holidays came and went with a similar, abridged version. We were happy to be surrounded by family and friends alike, but that heavy feeling of something….someone missing struck us. It wasn’t something we spoke much about outside of our own pillow talk, but it weighed on our minds all the same. The new year came and went without recognition from us because our lives had been flipped upside down and turned inside out in such a way that we had to start anew months prior. We had a wonderful vacation, adventuring around Colorado for the first time, while I carried our little peanut in my belly. When we came back home, we found out we had lost that little baby too. It felt as though some big bully saw the progress we had been making, didn’t like it, and gave us one big shove backwards, knocking us on our asses. And I stayed down there for a bit…longer than I’d like to admit. I was sad we lost our peanut because we were so hopeful. I had feared that after losing Boog, we would have difficulty conceiving again, but we didn’t. And with that, we became optimistic that this time it could be real. Then, that dream was crushed and we had to pick up the pieces of our broken hearts again with the echoes of our nightmare chanting….”We can’t find a heart beat,” their favorite tune.
As an adult, I have to be my own biggest advocate. That goes for my goals, aspirations, physical health, fitness, mental health, relationships, friendships, etc.
My primary care manager (PCM) was a shitbag. He saw me once a week from three to seven weeks during my second pregnancy.. Every week, he did or said something that set us on edge even more than we already were. Anxiety was running high. We felt timid, uncertain, and unnerved after every appointment until he broke the last straw. I had to call him after hours through the hospital in order to get a refill on my antidepressant medication. It wasn’t late, only about 30 minutes after closing, but he answered cranky and agitated. I explained I had forgotten to ask for the prescription when I was in earlier but needed it today. Then, I thoroughly apologized. He said something, but I couldn’t understand him because the connection was breaking up. When I finally heard what he was asking, I was shocked, upset, and angry. “Have you ever considered not taking it since you’re pregnant?” If I was a cartoon, my head would have blown off and smoke would have been coning out of my ears. Instead, I took a deep breath through the tears and responded, “Well yes, actually. You helped me wean off of them with my last pregnancy, but with that loss and my increase anxiety, it is not recommended that I go off them this time around.” And I hung up. What he was failing to understand was that I was not depressed and anxious, but I have depression and anxiety. They are not visitors but permanent residents in my mind. These thoughts and feelings are not going to simply disappear or get better on their own. It’s a fight I have to wage every single day. My PCM was putting other aspects of my health above my mental health, not knowing that without my mental health stabilized, I am not healthy.
When I became dissatisfied with my PCM, I called my midwife and made an appointment to go back to the care team where she worked. I felt comfortable, confident, and certain that I was going to get the best care for me with them.
In November, the medication I had taken for years to help me manage my depression and anxiety suddenly no longer worked for me. I was debilitated by anxiety attacks and dark thoughts. I found it hard to get out of bed, shower, and eat. I was mad and agitated. I wasn’t myself; I was my diagnosis. After three anxiety attacks in one day, I had had enough. I wanted to give up to those depressing thoughts, those suicidal ideations. Instead, I called my midwife and told her what was happening. The next day, she met me with two new prescriptions to better manage what was going on. I cannot emphasize enough how much this helped me come alive. This was three months ago, and it takes about that long for antidepressants to take full effect, and I fucking feel it. And….its amazing. I can’t imagine continuing to live in that gloomy haze any longer and I’m thankful I didn’t wait because I wouldn’t be feeling this good right now.
When I started exercising again back in June, it was off and on and filled with a lot of distress. I was focused more on working out life’s frustrations, my own disappointments, and an abundance of emotions. Then, I wanted to focus on losing weight which lead to discouragement as my mind and body were not ready to let go of my pregnant figure. A breakthrough finally occurred with the help of some friends, Crossfit, and learning to let myself feel my broad range of emotions as they come to me (sometimes in the middle of a workout). Then with moving houses, Christmas, vacation, and my second pregnancy, I had more setbacks than progress from November to January.
About two weeks ago, E came home from work and noticed something different about me. I was talking about plans for myself, changes I wanted to make, and goals I wished to achieve. He grabbed my face and kissed me deeply. When he pulled away, he had a giant smile on his face and he asked me, “Do you feel like you just woke up?” Yes. I did. The fog had cleared and I could see myself again. It felt glorious. Amongst another loss, I had somehow managed to emerge resembling the Kat we all once knew.
Today I started running again. I love running. When I was doing it a few months ago, I dreaded it, I hated it the entire time I was doing it, and I was happy when it was over. Today I was excited. I’m still excited. I felt great when I woke up this morning and committed myself to it. I felt great when I first stepped outside. I felt great in the middle of my run. And I felt great when I finished. I woke up. I have finally woken up.