Still…

I have typed and deleted, typed and deleted the first portion of this post severally, even courted the thought of ignoring it altogether. Why, because it feels like a continuous from last week’s post on parenting struggles here. Struggling, still.

Do the struggles ever end? Is it okay to admit that this is hard and that, I am struggling now? To admit that single parenting is not a walk in the park? To admit that I have these crazy thoughts which I cannot type here? To admit that I fear motherhood is not blissful for me? That on days like this, teh struggles feel like waves crushing on the rocks, again and again? To admit that just when I think the cloud is lifting I am hit by another one that reminds me of…still, struggling?

Then, I am asking myself, what is the point of helping other moms if I myself cannot help me? What is the point of reaching out on the PPD-Kenya pages  if I am a broken mess right now? Doesn’t that take away from the very message I am trying to pass across, to let moms know that they are not alone while I feel incredibly lonely in this phase of parenting? How do I reassure the woman within that it actually gets better with raising a child? How much more do I repeat the words I share with other moms and make them a reality right now? Until I get to a place where I believe it?

I cringe when I think of dealing with tantrums (because whoever said tantrums are for terrible twos did not think of it, but issa lie!). We are going from “it is a fine day to enjoy motherhood’ to pulling my hair and wondering why this child just won’t listen. Complete with the high-pitched screams, throwing things down and dramatic cries. It is intense, and it is frustrating. It is hard, and it is vulnerable to admit it is hard. Sometimes it is fraught with fears and regrets of a past, because nothing screams louder of ‘incapable mom’ than a child who pushes the limit to your breaking point.

It is the fear of doing something that you will regret. It is the fear of going overboard and coming to a place where motherhood will never feel the same way. It is the same fear I had, of walking away and never coming back. Single moms who have raised boys on your own, does this phase ever come to an end? I am struggling, still.

Burn Out

It has been a while since I posted anything on here, not because I didn’t want to, or didn’t have anything to say… Truth is, I have been struggling these past four weeks. For whatever reason, it has been an incredibly hard season with parenting. I have stumbled, waddled, and fought through these past couple of weeks. And you know what is so scary about it? The fact that I could feel myself losing a grip on me; it is that all-so familiar feeling when things are about to spin out of control.

Having suffered Postpartum Depression before, this is one of the scariest things as far as my mental health is concerned. There is always that lingering thought at the back of my mind, “could it be depression, again? What am I not doing right? What am I missing? OR perhaps I have let go of my self-care toolbox and I am paying a mighty price for it…”

It is almost cliché, parenting does not come with a manual, you learn on the go – always learning. And yes, I know I have written that 5 was the best year yet… and it was. Until this depressive episode knocked me off my feet. (NOTE: Not depression, depressive episode, it is temporary, it will lift off, it is lifting off). The realization that my son is growing up way faster than I am probably adjusting hit home hard. And with it comes the independence, the ability to structure thoughts and articulate himself, and of course, the need to push boundaries and limits.

Read More: Why I kept my Postpartum Depression A Secret

And these, admittedly got to me. These parenting struggles. ( I am a single mom, and we recently moved away from home to live on our own. Needless to say, while it seemed like my son had settled well in school and in our new neighborhood, the upsetting of family structure as he knew it started to unravel in a myriad of ways, among them epic meltdowns and legend tantrums. I am talking punch-you-back-because-you-are-not-getting-me-this-snack-and-so-i-will throw-food-in-the-bin – doesn’t help kid takes tae-kwondo classes at school…)

A good part of me could not reconcile the lessons I learned during my therapy sessions with what I was going through. For many reasons, this child seemed not to take any correction from me, and at the time, no one could step in seeing as we were in a new hood. And I started to feel that all-so familiar sense of overwhelm, the one that starts to gather small clouds of haze in true depressive-style.

There were all the red flags: I stopped going for my morning walks, I stopped journaling, early mornings became a thing of the past and the food cravings hit hard and proper. I have struggled with emotional eating before, so the moment I fall back, off early morning runs, off conscious eating, I know I am teetering on the edges of a depressive episode. Add to these the pressures of working from home and I was a proper mess.

Read More: Planning to visit a new mom? Here are 8 things to remember

I am slowly coming out of this depressive episode. I am finding myself, first as an individual, then as a mother – because you cannot pour from an empty cup. I am looking at my selfcare toolbox once again. It is a work in progress. I am easing off pressure with work. I am looking at options on how to get help with parenting – grateful to have a support system around me. I am grateful the people I never thought would come through, and understand this phase I am in, showed up for me. I am doing something about it, and that is what matters.

Why am I sharing this? I am doing this to remind myself that a depressive episode is not a relapse and to keep in mind that I am not a bad mother. This is to remind myself that it is okay not to be okay, but it is not okay to build a home there. That kicking PPD in the butt does not mean I will not struggle with parenting some days. And to let moms know, it is okay to ask for help. It matters.

Image credits

 

First of many

In my last post, I mentioned on the fact that I had started going for therapy sessions following my Postpartum Depression whose experiences I have shared a lot on here. This is the first of installment of several that I will post, sharing what I have learnt, looking back at the journey that has been as well as charting the way forward.

Before anything, I must express my gratitude for one dear friend of mine who made it possible for me, and hooked me with one of the warmest souls I have ever met, Rhoda. Rhoda is a trained counselor and psychologist with a heart for moms, and this made her a perfect fit. Both my friend and Rhoda are gifts in my life, and for that, I am very grateful.

Read More: To Those I Hurt…

We (my son and I) arrived on the first appointment some 15 minutes before time, because even kids must learn the importance of keeping time. I noted, to my delight, that Rhoda’s office is nestled in a tranquil neighborhood, away from the manic driving and honking that Nairobi matatus (public buses) are best known for. The calm soothes the soul. It is as if the gentle breeze blows away one’s worries from the balcony.

Rhoda made my son and I feel comfortable first as we sunk into her stylish floral sofa, not your typical office I guess, huh? The blinds let in just enough light: not too glaring to illuminate my issues (LOL) and not too dim to wonder where the melaninaire I am is 🙂 Then she introduced herself, her academic background and stated clearly she upholds ethical values for client confidentiality purposes. After the paper work, the session was off to a great start.

Read More: Feeling like a mom

At the onset, it was simply for me to introduce myself, why I thought therapy would work for us, my key relationships – family, my son, my partner (or the lack thereof) and God. My response was jumbled really, most of which I have blogged about on here, especially as regards my relationship with my son and Postpartum Depression.

She listened, careful not to interrupt, but with a keenness that made me comfortable to open up to her as my son ran around. She asked questions that allowed me to express myself better or to clarify something she may have missed. Her affable self was a delight to spend time with. After I was done talking (and honey, I talk and talk and talk…), she gave me a mini-break to collect her thoughts and give me some ‘homework’.

This was the interesting take-home from that session. Some of the factors that did contribute to my Postpartum depression were childhood scars, issues that I had let pile up unknowingly and unattended to up until the birth of my son. Part of the week’s task was to journal on all these things in greater detail and find what insights I would come up with. To say this was mind-blowing would be understating it.

I took a Friday afternoon off, went to one of the open public spaces in Karen and poured everything on paper. I looked back at the little girl I was, the proud moments at school, the dreams I had growing up, the relationships I had, graduating at just 20 and plunging headfirst into motherhood. My paper was tear-stained, but I did not care. It felt like a burden had been lifted off my shoulders. The insights gave me a sense of direction; I saw that most of life as it unwraps in adulthood is an undeniable product of childhood.

I look forward to what is in store for me and my little boy on this journey. I have a feeling it is pretty exciting, especially that we get to kick Postpartum Depression in the butt!