… I can see clearly now, the rain is gone,
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright)
You have probably heard that song by Johnny Nash. The first time I heard it was on a rinse aid commercial or something like that. The lyrics stuck with me and it has been one of my favourite songs.
Recently I started taking meds for my mental health again and I really debated whether I should write about it. I am sitting in a park with a sleeping baby and the thought came again. Okay, maybe I want to write about this but how should I frame it?
I love how nature gives me inspiration. God speaks through his creation to his creation.
This morning at 5:30 when I took my daughter for a walk (doesn’t happen often now but sometimes she still wakes up early and needs to get outside) the sky was grey and brooding. A cool breeze was blowing dried leaves across the sidewalk.
The weather report said zero percent chance of rain but I had my doubts.
At 3:30 in the afternoon I was taking off my hoody and putting on my daughter’s sun hat. Cloudy mists fade into light.
In 2013/2014 there were a cloudy mists of mental illness in my mind and wounds in my heart. I have written many posts about that journey so I won’t go into great detail here. Bottom line is I was diagnosed with OCD presenting in intrusive/unwanted swear words in my mind. The cause? Most likely a combination of genetics, a variety of stressors and traumatic events.
On bad days my dad would say “it’s cloudy now but sunny days are coming.”
I recovered quite well with therapy and marrying an amazing man so I weaned off my meds and did really well. Once in a while I said to Forest, “my brain is screaming swear words at you”. We would laugh and carry on and eventually they disappeared.
Then I got pregnant… an incredible gift that brought tears of joy as well as tears of frustration when sickness and liver complications accompanied it. My secure little world was turned upside down and the brain screams re-emerged from the murky depths of my mind. This time they weren’t directed at my husband but at the precious bundle in my womb. Not quite so easy to brush off with a laugh.
The stakes were much higher now with a husband and a baby on the way. I did not want to end up back in hospital or struggling with the desire to self harm. Thankfully psychiatrists are much more accessible for pregnant patients and I was able to get proactive care. Professional help for mental illness is such a huge need in our community and it is sad that so many people are in wait lists and have to be hospitalized or at risk of danger in order to be seen.
Throughout my pregnancy the psychiatrist kept me accountable for self care and made sure that I was safe. She respected my choice to not take meds while pregnant.
I didn’t like the side effects of meds in the past so I did the best I could with sleep, exercise, prayer and fun.
I realize now this built a great foundation for motherhood. Meds or no meds self care is essential.
My daughter arrived and she truly is a bundle of joy. An extrovert who loves to smile at friend and stranger alike. Full of energy and curiosity. She also has no problem telling me what she needs with whines and wails as well as cute coos.
She has a massive appetite and eats her solids very heartily and nurses even more heartily. When she was a newborn she was constantly nursing. Food is a great supplement now!
Because so many people admire my daughter it took me a long time to admit that the arrival of this amazing person hungry for life and milk and mama’s touch was quite a disruption to my mind.
Whenever anyone suggested medication I felt guilty and thought “why would I need antidepressants for having a baby?! This is a happy event! A good thing!” Where is my faith? Why can’t I just rely on God?!
It was only after trying as hard as I could to do self care and hearing stories from others taking meds that I felt to take the plunge.
I felt sad that I wasn’t enjoying my daughter as much as I hoped to or life in general. One friend at church said “maybe medicine is what God has for you”. I also reflected on the fact that I had no problem taking intense anti nausea meds while being pregnant but felt a lot of resistance against brain medication. I didn’t want side effects. I didn’t want to hurt my baby. Seeing healthy moms with healthy babies taking meds during pregnancy and nursing really helped.
It has been over a month now since I started a very low dose of a very low risk med that helps my brain hold on to seretonin a little longer. I haven’t experienced side effects and Forest said, “you’re so cheerful!” I still keep up with the self care. I feel more able to pray and study the bible and connect with God and people. I am enjoying my daughter much more and I think she can see the difference.
It is not a magic pill. Life is still hard at times. I still get grumpy. My baby still cries. I still need to rely on God for life and strength and hope. I still need community and support. Medication is not salvation but like any medication it helps and I am no longer ashamed or afraid.
It is a bright sunshiny day.
In sharing this I hope it gets rid of some barriers and stigma. Feel free to reach out with comments or questions. My one request is that you respect my decisions and do not give advice about natural alternatives or express concern about my choice. My family and I are well taken care of and I am sensitive to feedback so please tread lightly.