I've been pretty open and honest about my postpartum experience. I was at Cherry Bomb the other morning, and a mum asked me how I was doing, and I straight up told her I was having a pretty hard time. Her eyes softened and she went on to tell me about her experience, which had been very similar with her first baby. This is why talking about things, and being open about pain, is important; you never know where and from whom you will find some relief. Some days, a five-minute conversation with a stranger can be enough to change my attitude or give me hope.
It's been a long haul so far, and as the feelings of depression and anxiety continue to wax and wane, I simply have to go along for the ride. Some days that ride takes me straight under into the belly of the undertow, and other days I am on top of the wave, coasting along...
I was speaking with a dear friend/mentor the other night who suffered from a major depression when his wife left him and he raised their two kids on his own. He said, "You never really know your humanness until you go through something like that." That hit the right chord in me; suffering really sucks if there's no meaning to it...
I have been trying for months and months to "fix" this problem of depression/anxiety. I cannot tell you how many vitamin bottles and herbal mixtures have graced our counter, or how many massages, reiki appointments, acupuncture treatments, and DEEP conversations I have had - not to mention the regular presence of shamanic healing techniques. Everything can be helpful, sure, and it's so crucial to talk to people and get help, and keep the healing ball rolling, but when one (I guess that's me) is faced with huge personal upheaval, or simply put - pain - it needs to breathe and be alive so it can heal. And the only remedy or balm for this is time, and presence. Yes, being with it, even when it's too much to bear. I wish I could tell you different, I wish I could say that doing lots of running around and keeping busy, and looking for something, ANYTHING, to be a fix - works, but it doesn't. Not in the face of your humanness.
I am reading a beautiful book called, When Things Fall Apart, by Pema Chodron. If anything is a fix, it is what she is talking about; being with your pain. Just being with it, listening to your mind think, and being kind to yourself. That's it. So easy, right? Painful thoughts and emotions are one thing, but the reaction to them is really where we get screwed.
Many years ago, one of my best friends lost her partner in a tragic bicycle accident. I wanted to help her, fix her pain - do anything to take it away. I ended up going down to this store on McCaul St called Native Stone Art (now gone...) to speak with the owner, who was learned in native medicines, about buying her some kind of healing animal skin she could use to help soothe her. I told him about what had happened, and how deeply she was grieving. He responded simply with, "sometimes you just have to grieve. There is nothing that is going to take away the pain."
This, I believe, may make things easier. Pain is only a nightmare when we lock it in the closet and hide from it under the bed. I don't think enlightenment is a fancy, supernatural experience - I think it's coming to grips - peacefully - with everything life has to offer, and still hanging on for the ride.