Day 1 – (Lost) Identity.

The other day Jayden (my son) and my friend were playing with Lego blocks, building shapes, and structures, and laughing. I was in the other room, listening in on their chit-chat. My friend, let’s call her Sandra, told Jayden that, matter of fact, I was mommy to both of them. Jayden gives her this puzzled look, like, ‘What do you mean my mom has two children?’ ‘Where have you been all this time?’ ‘How Now?’ So after a minute or two, my son tells her, ‘No, my mom is not your mom. She is my mom’ Sandra: She is my mom. Jayden: Noo *insert shrieks* back and forth, until Lego blocks had to be built again.

I listened in surreptitiously, a conversation that probably none of them recall. But it left an impression in my heart and mind. On the identity we relate to, the identity accorded to us, who we are, whose we are. Looking at this through the lens of Post Partum Depression (PPD), I couldn’t help but heave a sigh, not a sigh of relief. a sigh of reflection, if there is something like that. Here’s why: For the longest time during PPD, I felt like I had lost my identity. Like the core of who I really am was warped in an alchemy of confused, depressed suicidal thoughts.

See, here is the thing about depression: It changes how you view yourself, your strengths, weaknesses and even experiences. It is harder when it is compounded with the challenges that come with been a new mom. Prior to motherhood, I was the kind of person with an extremely bubbly personality, the girl talking volubly at the bar counter, the one dancing the night away before retiring to the covers in the wee hours of the morning. Carefree, go-getter, loving life and the curves it threw, curves which look diminished now. I’d embraced a lifestyle of profligacy, carefully veiled as ‘living in the present’. Looking back, this may not have been the perfect way to live, but it showed who I was at the core, a vivacious girl.

Enter motherhood, enter sleepless nights, enter dozens of bibs and diaper counter higher than the number of medals belonging to Kenya’s hotbed of athlete championships. This was new, foreign, strange even. The change from bubbly to bitter was not drastic. I slipped away, slowly but surely. I stopped enjoying life. Suddenly, all the hopes I had for motherhood became a distant memory, fading into a foggy space. Instead of looking at life with hope and excitement for untrammeled possibilities, all I had were erratic thoughts, capricious words to my-then infant, and a hazy idea of who I really was.

My identity was gone, completely. I’d struggle to simply get through the day, elbow-deep in baby poop and drool, only to stare blankly at night when all else was silent. On good days, my son slept say 4 hours in a row, on bad nights, we’d count down to the rooster crowing at the break of dawn, and when the sun shone, all I saw was its glow on my half-baked hopes of ‘good’ mom.

In retrospect, I am learning that depression, whether post-partum or otherwise, seeks to shake us at the core of who we are, our identity, who we perceive ourselves to be. It is not a one-off thing like one would have on a single day. It is persistent, hanging around, stifling any joyous moments, getting rid of all hopes for a better day. Today, I am learning that PPD is a condition, it is not who I am, neither is it who I want to be. I will not say it gets better overnight, or in a week, or a year. I will say hanging on is good enough, hanging on to hope, and knowing you are never alone in the journey of motherhood.It is the first step in loosening the grip that depression has on moms. This, often accompanied by the sheer terror of battling this haze alone, wondering whether any other moms feel like you. whether other moms really do not experience the bond that breastfeeding is purported to foster, whether other moms dislike their kids… truth is, one is never alone, even though it feels like that 90% of the time.

Speaking of been alone and lost identity, during my 5AM morning devotion, I read Isaiah 43 which puts it succinctly that I am never alone. Verses 2 & 4 lept at me:

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you,

When you walk through fire, you will not be burned or scorched, nor will the flame kindle upon you…  

Because you are precious in my sight, and honored…

What reassurance to know that I am watched over by The One, that God cares for me, and even amid life’s tempest, I am Never alone. Here’s to letting other moms know, you are not alone in the darkness that PPD is. There’s a way out.You may lose your identity, but don’t let go, hang on. Hang on to His words, if you may.

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Simple joys that transform my days <3

Feautured Image Credits: Abigail Rylance

30 day writing challenge

I had taken a brief hiatus from blogging, to gain clarity and perspective for the new month. I love the newness of another month, the realization that it is a clean slate, a chance to live to the fullest. It is exactly 120 days to the end of the year, can you believe that?! Wow! the year whizzed by too much, about to get those New Year resolutions, not. I believe in taking steps to change now, now is all we really have. Suffice to say, this is one of the challenges that I have taken up for this month. a 30-day writing challenge, 30 freaking days! Does it scare me? Somewhat, feels daunting to take up a challenge so publicly.

Wondering where I got the inspiration? My online abode. Reading through Medium (yall should head on there, a resourceful site IMO), one link led to another, and I finally landed on Greig’s website where he talks about a 30-day writing challenge / teach about everything you know. The idea behind this is, we consume so much information with little or no outlet. Logically, this is not healthy. So, Greig opined that it was time to reverse the trend.

He set himself up to do a 1000 words daily on a topic he is informed about, for 30 days in a row. Yup, a whole month!! It gets better because he held himself accountable by setting up a system where if no posts are up by midnight, he gets to donate 100 sterling pounds to charity. What’s fascinating is that, like any of us, there’s all the self doubt: I am afraid, I have nothing important to say, I need time off on weekends… So he published that article and set himself up for the challenge. In the end, he had only come up 2 days short.

This got me thinking, with so little information on Post Partum Depression (PPD) especially in Kenya, perhaps this could be a good start to get conversation going on about this silent but dreadful mental health condition. I am doing the same, setting myself up for a 30-day writing challenge starting today (no, this article does not count). When I come up short, I get to donate Ksh 1000 to MyMindMyFunk, a mental health organization run by Sitawa Wafula. (She does an amazing job in mental health advocacy, Be sure to check out her current project on Open Spaces. This is a #suicide project that aims to collect narratives from people who have been suicidal/ have lost a loved one through suicide.)

Let’s meet here tomorrow, and the day after..

Featured image credits: The Telegraph

The Man in the Arena

It is not the critic who counts, not the person who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds, who knows great enthusiasm, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best, knows in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

These words were spoken by Theodore Roosevelt. I’d read them before but today, I got a totally new perspective (Thanks to one of the blogs that’s growing on me lately, Girl on Fire by Tessy Maritim, a bold, vivacious 21 year old who will inspire you). The Man in the Arena. The doer, the man who takes action, that is he who gets credit.

No, not the guys on the sidelines criticizing your every move. No, not the guys in the background pointing out every fault, every shortcoming, every reason why you cannot make it. And get me right, I am not talking about positive criticism because this is, in fact, very integral for one to move forward. I am referring to the naysayers, the ones who tell you you don’t even have a glass to start with, let alone whether it is full or empty.

See, whatever you do on the face of this good earth, not every one will support you, practically, not everyone can. So you just have to ignore the negative energy and do you. Always wanted to do something? Get your masters? Travel the world? Start a fashion line? Write a blog/ book? Quit your day job to raise your kids? Start saving for the purposes of investing? Just go ahead and do it.

Many of us spend time wishing, wondering what ‘they’ will say, thinking we are not ready. Truth is, ‘they’ will always say something, many things. And you will never truly feel ready. Quit wishing and, just do it. Take action. So many wishing, so few doing. Which explains in part why, doing attracts criticism (both good and bad). As long as you are committed to your cause, running your race tirelessly, those guys on the sidelines mocking you, jeering you… those guys are irrelevant. And that’s because, you are the man in the arena.

That’s because you are the one who is actually trying, doing something. It does not hurt to try. If you succeed, you get to achieve what you set to do. If you fail at it, you learn something new, you take on the courage of a challenge that will see you grow and get out of your comfort zone, you get new perspective. There is something fulfilling about immersing one’s self into a worthy cause, one that you believe in, one that, even when marred by sweat and tears, is still worth channeling one’s energy to.  Whatever arena you are in, seize the moment to savor victory and cherish the lessons of failure.

PS: Relating this to my life, I had always wanted to start a blog that creates a platform to share my story on Post-Partum Depression (PPD), the silent struggles, the hushed cries for help, the long and lone nights of lullabies that did not lull my son to sleep, the frustration of the flinty life ahead… but there was always a reason an excuse not to do it. I am not prepared, I lack content, I am not active on social media, Lord, what do I have to say, Others have harder struggles… till I realized, for as long as I do not share my story, there is simply no way to reach out. I shelved those doubts and thoughts to the back of my bald head and just, plunged. I hope, pray, a mom, even one mom, will find inspiration here to know that they are never alone in the haze that PPD is. It feels like an island, alone, lonely, like no one understands, but truth is, someone somewhere can hold another mom’s hand.

Blessed Sunday good people.

Featured Image Photo Credits: Karoly Lorentey

Taking Stock 01

For a long time I have been wondering how to really sit and live in the present on the blog, and practically. Not in the past, that is gone, Not in the future, that is not yet here. In the now. Stumbled on Taking Stock on This is Ess blog (undoubtedly one of Kenya’s best fashion stars, gotta love how passionate she is about what she does), who was inspired by the template on Sydney Poulton’s blog, who lifted the idea from Pip’s blog! What a long chain – feel free to keep the chain going-. It certainly is a great way to stay in the present, in a frenetic-paced world, what with the constant buzzing of our tabs, popping of our Facebook notifications, ringing of our phones…

So here goes. Would love to look back at this one year from now and marvel at the changes made, the strides made, and any adjustments if need be.

Making: a pencil holder from used tissue rolls with my son, a DIY project of sorts. Check this website out if you’d be interested 🙂

Cooking (tonight): cornmeal crusted fish fingers with ugali and kale. Been craving fish lately, my son’s roots manifesting perhaps?

Drinking: Lots and lots of tea. And to think I’d tell mum taking copious amounts of tea was for aging ladies, see my life Momma!!

Reading: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, and Dreams from my Father by Barack Obama.

Wanting: The night potty training phase to be over… hello 2AM alarms!

Wasting: no opportunities to connect with my little man!

Enjoying: Connecting with other moms on different platforms, talking about Post-Partum Depression (PPD).

Liking:Loving Jaye Thomas’s song, We Love Your Name.

Marveling: At how strong Sitawa Wafula is, such an amazing lady.

Smelling: Mandazi. How apt when I am working on eating healthy…

Wearing: Jeans, old school rubber shoes, and hooded sweater. This hair though, need to get the baldie look back.

Knowing: That I am never alone, in my PPD journey, in my struggles, in life.

Bookmarking: Fish recipes.

Giggling: at a conversation my son had with my pal yesterday.

Pal: What is the name of your Sunday School Pastor?

Jay: Pasta?

Pal: Yeah, Pastor.

Jay: Pasta is in the food thermos 😀 😀 😀

Thinking: About someone who used to be special, and a littu teary-eyed about it.

Feeling: Hopeful. It’s been one of those days…

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Been staring at this throwback pic or a while, wondering what this little girl’s dreams were…

**Featured Image Photo Credits: Courtney Fitzgerald of Our Small Moments.**

Memories…

The past few days I have been on a go-slow of sorts (work-related) simply because the past two weeks have been crazy busy, to the point it got unnerving, disturbingly distracting enough to cause me to miss out on sunrises, the fog-covered Ngong hills on a chilly Monday morning even the distant heehaw of the donkeys rummaging through mounds of garbage uncollected by the county council. This period was best captured by my good friend who pens at Letters from a scribe in her latest post (She has amazing insights, y’all check her out).

Even then, a mini-break of sorts interspersed with toddler antics is not quite a break, you know… which is why it feels like spa treatment when the little one heads over to stay with grandma (cucu) during the day. So my mini-break is presently characterized by endless cups of tea, blog-reading, tinkering with my blog’s settings, and my current reads: The Goldfinch by Donna Tart and Dreams from my Father, by the only Kenyan President of America ever, Barack Obama.

This past weekend, my friend invited me and my son Jayden (not sure I have mentioned his name in previous posts) for her son’s first birthday. I was only too glad to accept the invitation for reasons that I will divulge towards the end of this post. Initially, I was torn between accepting her gracious invitation and heading home to kick back, relax and, you guessed it, take tea (cinnamon tea, thank you very much). Then I thought to myself, “Her son will be one year, once, forever. I might as well show up and make the most of it.” With that decision, I figured an African print high waist skirt and simple chic black top will do.

***

We got off from church and my sister dropped us off close to my friend’s stage. The air was hot, and eerily dry. White clouds floated over the dusty landscapes. Occasionally, a breeze blew over the trees, creating a gentle rustling of the dry leaves. Jayden was hungry, sweaty, and a tad bit cranky. We walked on across the labyrinth of crisscrossing paths using the directions we had been given. Moments like this always got me thinking how cool it would be to slump into the beige leather seats of my Mercedes M-Class…

The narrow roads ensured I brushed shoulders with many more people, even as we trudged on. We went about, lost in our own worlds without as much as a word between my son and I (Hot weather, hungry tummies, and a cranky toddler is a combination that does not offer fodder for verbal engagement). We skipped over a burst sewage line, the putrid smell overwhelming our olfactory cells, and walked on a couple more meters before my friend sent someone to pick us.

The relief of getting into the house, away from the sun’s midday heat was very much welcome. After gulping down copious amounts of water, my son went on to make friends as I helped around the house. Walking around, it was hard to ignore the resplendent aura of this magnificent home. It glowed with a dull haze that reeked of opulence, peppered with the mellowness of modernity before breaking out into a warm, colorful and cozy interior. I couldn’t help but marvel at the architectural masterpiece that this was. There is something about warm cozy houses that always gets me to picture my family.

The kids played, and ran, and wrestled, some dancing to the tunes of popular Naija songs (which I somewhat cringed at). Food was served, tantalizing food whose aroma wafted through the air, completing the perfect family scenario. Eventually, it was time for the birthday boy to blow his candles. The handsome one year old was only too fascinated with the flickering candle light on his cake, totally oblivious to the off-tune ‘happy birthday’ songs that rent the air. It was joyous. Family together, the blessing of one year with its spit-up filled bibs, oops-diaper moments, fevered sleepless nights and infectious toothless grins. I couldn’t help but marvel at this, happy I showed up. Here’s why.

My Post-Partum Depression (PPD) Journey, over my son’s first two years, means I cannot remember much of his milestones in vivid detail. Yes, I snapped them away, Yes I posted them on Facebook, Yes I ‘liked’ comments, and responded, seemingly happily so. But it was hollow, eerie even. I was present, but absent, emotionally excluded from the joys of a first and second birthday. For the better part of those years, I was joyless as a swarm of hornets, lacking inspiration, vigor, and worst of all, lacking hope.

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Jayden at 9 months. Toothy grins.

I lost track of days, it was a constant cycle of sleeplessness, and fatigue, complimented by the shrill cries of a colicky baby in the first few weeks. There was always the lingering theatrical gloom that accompanied my erratic thoughts, especially as pertained to financial obligations. Jobless, single mom reeling from despair I could not put a word on (now I know it was PPD). It became a rather bleak form of existence, or the lack of it (something which spurred a cascade of events that led me short of stabbing my then 3-week old son, and suicide).

For this reason, I do not have many good memories of my son’s first two years. It feels like looking at the sun through over chlorinated pool water in the heat of summer. It is hazy. A hiccup of lost time, a couple of frames unexpectedly snipped off the film of motherhood, the dyspeptic dreariness of disconnection. Yet, standing there, amid the cheers of excited toddlers and towering pre-teens, I couldn’t help but marvel in the beauty of the moment.

The hollowness of PPD means I am learning to hold on to moments like these; fleeting moments that seem irrelevant in the unfolding tapestry of daily life, but which we reminisce about during PPD healing, and ultimately when the kids are older. I am re-learning how to enjoy motherhood. How to snap away the precious moments, while not blaming myself for failing to capture the moments that words cannot express; sometimes, these are the most beautiful.

I am learning to enjoy the morning hugs even when the clock is ticking, and we are running late for school. To enjoy a hearty laughter when my son finds humor in a gibberish statement that only he can comprehend. To appreciate the fact that my now-austere lifestyle is a worthy sacrifice. To be grateful for the opportunity to discipline, and model virtuous behaviors for my little man to emulate. To step back every so often and thank God for grace that held me unknowingly when my inner fortitude could not fight against the ravages of depression. To honor a platform such as this, with the hopes that more mums will be reached, more mums will know they are never alone, and ultimately, more mums will conquer PPD.

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Rocking baldies with my favorite human 🙂

Featured Image Photo credits: Mutua Matheka

Triggers…

I write this post, sipping hot tea, oblivious to the fact that today, the sun decided to shine in all its midday glory. Best of all, perhaps, is the fact that my little power house has taken a hiatus of sorts from mom, and has opted to stay with cucu, best grandma ever, and who has seemingly defied the idea of getting old. It has been a long while since I was this quiescent (August school holidays are here, and my toddler lives it up every single minute!), and the bliss of the moment got me thinking a lot about events that unfolded in the last weekend. This gave me the impetus for this particular post.

***

I stood there, slightly flummoxed at how fast I was losing it, how fast the world around me, mentally, was spinning. The kids were seemingly uncontrollable. I’d attend to one kid who’d just scraped his knee, only to find his friend doing somersaults and see another eating paper from the corner of my eye while his friend attempted to replicate WWE’s scenes. There is something that happens when kids have excessive energy, and no-where to expend it, yet here I was alone, and nothing I could do about it. To contain the hyper kids in a room only creates the ideal environment for what was unfolding before my eyes. But that was not what was bothering me…

It was the striking similarity of the emotions that I associated with these out-of-control scenarios that had me feeling stifled, like I was getting choked. Overwhelmed, under pressure, and feeling like there is little that I can do for normalcy’s sake. A tear rolled down my cheek, someone asked me what was wrong, and it was as though that was the cue for the torrential burst of tears that followed before I scampered to a lone place, away from the scrutiny of the public. If I explained why this was bothering me, it would seem like I was lulling her into my seemingly apathetic angst, like I wanted to run away from my responsibility of watching over the kids that chilly afternoon. So I hobbled away.

I stood there alone, recollecting what had just happened, and why, even months after healing from self-diagnosed Post-Partum Depression (PPD), this scenario almost always got the better of me. Flashbacks of my son’s first year flooded in, quite fast. Then, I’d cry about almost anything, I’d cry when he cried, I’d cry if he was colicky, I’d cry if he couldn’t latch on my breast properly during feeding, I’d cry when he smiled toothlessly (for thinking how bad of a mom I was for not appreciating him), I’d cry when, sleep-deprived and under the new-born haze, I felt like I’d never be able to deal with this dark cloud hanging over my then shaggy hair (something that resembled the nest where those marabou storks at Nyayo roundabout live).

Looking back, feeling overwhelmed almost always made me lose it. And it was almost always accompanied by the shrill cries in the wee hours of the morning, the decision I faced to either leave baby on his own or smack his 3-month old diapered butt for crying with no apparent reason (because, ain’t you well-fed, freshly diapered and warm??). Sometimes I beat him, sometimes I ignored him, most of the time I cried in desperation, only to wipe those tears away and dab my face with ice-cubes in time for his grandma to return from work. It was hard.

Those very emotions are what I felt standing there alone, the sound of rustling leaves beneath my feet. I realized that, much as I have made strides in healing from PPD, there are still sights and sounds, especially the latter, that will always get me. Today, I don’t smack my son, or slap him like I used to in that frustration. I have learnt am learning to walk away from the situation when it starts to feel like fog is descending on me. To sit alone in silence, even for just five minutes. To remind myself that I have made steps, and while I am not perfect, I am certainly not where I used to be. To breathe, deeply. To catch myself before I fall into the flinty pit of frustration. To stay on shore before I drift into the murky waters of self-destruction. This seemingly small event put so much in perspective about my PPD journey. It made me realize that, while the depression gradually fades when one gets help and support, the triggers do remain, albeit silently.

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Featured Image Photo Credits: Samir Dave

The absence of presence

Read this post excitedly, happy to realize that my pal was expecting, only to get to the end and have my hopes crushed. the absence of presence, the space of nothingness that engulfs a crushed soul…

Inspiration: Snippets of my life

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Inspiration.”

I like to think I am a digital nomad, who moves from one website to another, sometimes work related, often not. I came across the challenge by Daily Post to blog about what inspires me, and since I am looking to write more, this was ideal. It couldn’t have come at a better time; today has been, somewhat difficult. I realized working under pressure is, sometimes, the easiest way for me to buckle, to want to sit in a corner and just engage in emotional eating (which I know is wrong). So the challenge of penning down what inspiration means to me, and what works for me certainly puts me in a better place.

Nature

I have, for the longest time, been a nature-lover. There is unique oneness that comes about from staying in nature. It is the tranquility of chirping birds; it is the gentle flow of the river as it meanders its course; it is the rushing of water down the falls, collecting in a pool at the bottom of the falls, and simultaneously releasing a misty spray; it is the feeling of sand in my feet at the beach, overlooking the setting sun; it is the glow of the sun’s rays as they kiss the dew-covered grass to welcome a new day. These are the glimpses of nature that inspire me. It is the vastness of the ocean that reminds me of how ‘small’ I am amid the grandeur of nature. That is amazing to think about; it takes my breath away.

People

The inherent beauty in every individual is something to marvel at. Granted, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, but when you consider non-aesthetic traits like a person’s personality, their attitude towards life, their resilience in the face of adversity, the traits that really make up who they are at heart. If you look keenly, you will see beauty. The beauty that is a person who does not give up easily. The beauty of that, coupled with the fact that everyone is fighting their own battles, is inspiration enough; inspiration to appreciate the strides I have made in my personal journey, as well as be cognizant that there is more room for growth.

Motherhood

First things first, there is no manual to parenting (how I wish there was one!! for days like today). I will speak for moms because I am one. So you stumble along the way, fumbling for familiarity, and sometimes there is none, but you trudge on. As a survivor of Post-Partum Depression, living in the haze of this foggy phase makes it very easy to stay uninspired. Still reeling from the aftermath of what I describe as the darkest phase of my life, these days it inspires me to watch my 3-year old grow up; learn new vocabularies; develop fluency in wits; teach me life lessons, and overall, make me a better person. I am inspired to know that this stage is just that; a stage, and it does not last forever. this is inspiration enough to live in the present, to savor each and every moment, because Now is all I have.

Seemingly mundane things

You know, the seemingly ordinary, lack-lustre and mundane events… a simple cup of coffee with that one pal who has your ribs cracking, an evening walk with the background of life’s daily humdrum, a chilled evening indoors, wine in hand, book on laps. There is inspiration in the simplicity of these things, at least for me.

What is inspiration for you? Care to share what inspiration means to you, what embodies it? Have you been inspired today?

Wait Your Turn

At church, my babies (I love to call them that because for me, there is no greater delight in serving those little minds at Sunday School, and finding God’s love with them, complete with their brute honesty and candid innocence), a bunch of just about 30 kids, often get to enjoy playing around in the vast outdoors. On select Sundays, there are a couple of bouncing castles for the children to expend their energy, and boy oh boy, those little kids have so much energy, it amazes me.

What gave the impetus for this particular post was a lesson my son taught me while at the bouncing castle. It is interesting to know that previously, my son had avoided the bouncy contraption like a plague, and it would puzzle me because, ‘Son, I thought you’d love this’. This specific Sunday, he decided he would give it a try.

So, there he stood in line, his clean-shaven head shining in the midday sun, his excitement palpable. His gleeful shrieks rent the air, coupled with the laughter of the other kids as we set up the bouncing castle. Once it was up and running, the kids in queue would jump in turns, for a couple of minutes. The joy on the faces of these kids was contagious. It was marvelous to see how they live in the present, how they enjoy each moment, certainly a lesson for many of us whose thumbprints area permanent feature on our encased smart phones.

My son waited till his turn came. When he jumped in, the expression on his face was priceless: a mixture of ecstatic discovery and utter disbelief at this thing that has you bopping up and down like a yo-yo. For a split second, the typical mum I am ran into panic mode: Will he get hurt? Is he okay? Will he enjoy it? Clearly, my frenzied thoughts were of no use since the little boy was having the time of his life.

When his turn was over, he got off and went to the back of the queue, to do it all over again. I thought to myself, ‘this is cool’. But cool didn’t last a few more minutes because my son came to me, head hung low, asking that he be allowed on the bouncing castle one more time. I was tasked with explaining to his 3-year old mind that he’d have to wait his turn. Typical of 3-year olds, my answer was met with incoherent whining, but you know what they say, mommy gotta stay firm. When he realized I would not budge, he left to join the queue, albeit grudgingly.

As I stood there looking at the energetic lot of kids, I couldn’t help but reflect on the lessons learnt in that brief dialogue. ‘Wait your turn’ could not get out of my mind. In this day and age where we breathe and live on social media, it is not difficult to get a glimpse into other people’s lives. Not a week passes by without seeing pictures of graduation parties, engagement photo-shoots, new-born status updates, weddings, awards… the list is endless. Granted, social media is an amazing place to share great news. If we are not careful however, it will be the one place that we use as a yardstick for all of our life’s achievements and accomplishments (even when we know we shouldn’t).

Sometimes (and these are many times) it is easy to wallow in self-pity, thinking everyone else has their life figured out but me. Thinking everyone is having an amazing stress-free life, but me. And while this is not true, it does have the capacity to lead us to an unwarranted pity party. This cascade of events will often (almost always) leave us feeling drained, empty.

Telling my son to ‘wait your turn’ reminded me of the importance of this principle in daily life. Celebrate with others in their achievements, knowing well that your turn will come. Life, and this goes for all of us, is characterized with seasons. Seasons come and go, so you will not last in that dreary lonely spot forever. Wait your turn.

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Photo credits: Kiarii Kimani

Symptoms of Post-Partum Depression

Post-Partum Depression (PPD) refers to depression that occurs after pregnancy, a common condition and one that happens more often than many people would realize. According to Postpartum Support International, about 15% of women will experience profound depression after birth. So, what are the symptoms associated with PPD?

The symptoms of PPD will usually differ from one mom to another, but there are basic red flags to look out for. Moms suffering from PPD/ people around them may notice the following:

  • Intense anger (sometimes directed at the baby) and persistent irritability. You tend to feel angry, rage, at anything, everything, anyone, everyone, and that precious baby is no exception. It is feeling an uncontrollable resentment, especially at the people that matter.
  • Crying, often accompanied by overwhelming sadness. The period after delivery, for most moms, will be characterized by lots of tears, usually tears of joy. For a good number however, PPD shows up with tears of anguish, tears of trouble and sadness that sinks to the pits of your soul.
  • Emptiness, Numbness. There is nothing to look forward to, not your life’s, not your baby’s. You feel like a leaf, drifting in the afternoon breeze to the land of nothingness. Simply going through the motions, dreading the thought of another dark day.
  • Feeling guilty, ashamed, hopeless and helpless. Guilty because moms are not supposed to feel this way, they are meant to bond with their babies. Those toothless smiles of you and baby on Instagram? Those snuggly cute feet you posted on Facebook? Forget about that, Just a mask to hide the longing persistent pain of PPD. Ashamed because, I don’t know if this happens to other moms, plus, doesn’t my baby deserve better? Hopeless, what is there to hope for in this endless rabbit hole? Helpless, no one seems to understand what I am going through. No one seems to understand why I can’t bond with my baby. No one seems to understand why, and neither do I, I hate my baby so much.
  • A lack of interest in the baby’s welfare. You’d care less about baby, or his/her future…
  • You feel overwhelmed: ‘I can’t do this, I never get it right, I am poor at motherhood, I shouldn’t have chosen the ‘family way’… And you are petrified. Scared at the thought of been unable to pull it together and be a good mom. And confused about this thing that just hangs over your head… for days on end, this thing that you can’t comprehend.
  • Thoughts of self-injury and/or injuring the baby. You feel like self-injury will justify the pain, the pangs of a condition best described as a dark phase. It is not uncommon to feel suicidal, thinking it is a solution. The better if you can eliminate both you and baby. Or take a random drive, baby strapped in his seat, over the cliff and into the azure ocean waters. Or perhaps that’s too harsh, how about running away and leaving no forwarding address? Leaving everything that has been associated with ‘normal’ behind… and go to the unknown…

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  • You know, deep down, that this is not normal, that something is amiss, that something doesn’t feel right. Afraid that this is the new harsh reality before you, that this is the new normal, and worst of all, the old, boisterous person you were is gone forever.
  • You are scared that if you ask for help, you will be met by a judgmental lot, because good moms don’t live like that, good moms don’t feel that way, good moms don’t hate their babies… the list is endless.

If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to seek medical help, immediately. Take note, however, that experiencing any of the aforementioned symptoms for a day or two should not cause alarm. We all have those blue days. PPD is not just ‘having a bad day’; it is a persistent thing, a dark stage, one that makes it almost impossible to carry on with daily life. This is why it is very important to get help. Feel free to share this information with friends and loved ones. It helps to be on the lookout too for that new mom who is still finding their footing with the extra little person they have to take care of. Always go beyond the casual ‘Hi’, Be patient to really ask ‘How are you doing?’ and to wait for the truth, that things are not always fine. Sometimes all a mommy with PPD needs is a listening ear. There is hope.

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PS: PPDIsland is not managed by medical professionals, and therefore does not avail medical diagnosis or recommend any treatment regimen. This blog was birthed out of the need to create awareness about Post-Partum Depression, and especially in Kenya, as well as to give insight into what precedes this condition, from the eyes of a PPD Survivor. The blog is run out of the desire to help other moms know that they are not alone in this journey. For moms to know that there is hope even when, many times, PPD has you frazzled, and you are fraught with incessant fear, worry and doubt.

Any pertinent information found on this blogpost must be used in consultation with a professional medical practitioner. In the same breath, highlighting any specific medical website is not an endorsement or assurance of the quality of the said website. It is important to ascertain the authenticity of such information on the web.

 

Featured Image: photo credits Tintseh Photography

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