I’ve had so many blog titles running through my head lately.
“How To Talk To A Depressed Person” is one of them; “ECT Saved My Life” is another, and tonight’s post was going to be called “How Do Other Moms Do It?”- a piece about being a Mom of two kids under 4 and having No Clue how other Moms get so much stuff done in their day when I seem to be Momming just above the line of basic survival.
But as I sit here, trying to keep my eyes open long enough to write anything past 9 pm, and sitting as upright as possible due to my recent neck injury, I can hear my massage therapist’s voice in my head, urging me to rest and recover.
I just returned home from an Amazing family vacation. The vacation took our little family through 3 provinces and 20 days of awesome moments with wonderful people that I wish I got to see more often.
The last day of the vacation, I was out on the lake tubing with my family. My brother in law is Captain Safety and he was driving the boat. We kept egging him on to go faster, and he finally caved in. We hit a wave, the tube flipped, and I was the last one to fly out of it. Someone told me we were going 25 miles per hour (40 km/h) when we hit.
When I hit the water, the tube followed behind me and slammed into my neck. I heard a loud cracking noise right where the bottom of my neck meets my shoulders and then all I saw was darkness. Then I saw beams of sunlight, and then darkness again. Sunlight. Darkness. Sunlight. Darkness.
In my mind, I was somersaulting in the water and couldn’t stop flipping. I kept telling myself ‘it’s going to be okay because you can see the sun, it’s going to be okay because you can see the sun.’ I was afraid I was going to drown, but knew that I probably couldn’t because I was wearing a life jacket. My other thought was ‘No fucking Way. No way This is how you’re going to die, after Everything you’ve just been through.’
To my niece and husband who had flipped out of the tube with me, it looked like I was trying to swim toward the bottom. They would see my head pop up for a brief moment and then my bum and legs would come up to the surface. Head. Legs. Head. Legs.
They quickly swam to me when they realized that my flipping was not something I could control. Ryan held my head steady above water and Grace held my legs. I laid in the water like that for quite some time. It took me forever to swim back to the boat. On the way to the boat, I felt physically sick from the pain and the spinning. I started to puke in the water. I kept retching, bile after bile. When I got back to the cabin, I puked continuously. It took me about two hours to stop puking.
It was a really scary and super-not-awesome experience to have on the last day of the trip, but accidents are something to be expected when tubing, I had a life jacket on, all I incurred was a mild concussion and I can still move all my limbs, so I just chalked it up to bad luck and left it at that.
Fast forward to now, when the pain in my neck is so bad that sleeping is pretty uncomfortable, shoulder-checking is damn near impossible on the right side, and I’m popping muscle relaxants like candy.
I went to a massage therapist who specializes in sports injuries last week to get fixed up. She was doing her intake assessment and asked if there was anything else she should know.
I told her I just finished 12 sessions of ECT on July 13th. Her jaw dropped. She was like ‘Oh my god, your poor brain. ECT and then a concussion?? Your brain has been through so much! Please let it rest and recover. Don’t push yourself!’
This week, I’m frustrated with myself for being overweight and out of shape. I’m running 3 K’s every day but I’m mad that they’re not 5’s. I’m staring at my kitchen and wondering why it seems I’m Always in there but it still doesn’t look clean and there Still never seems to be enough food in my fridge. The dinners I make aren’t ready in time. My laundry gets washed but never folded. There’s a mountain of clothes downstairs that needs to be dealt with, but I’m always too tired or out grocery shopping or feeding Lucy or getting ready for camping, so it just sits there.
In the last two years, my Mom died. I had my second baby. I got married. I got postpartum depression. My stepmom died. I checked myself into the psych ward. I got 12 sessions of ECT, where doctors put you under general anesthesia and then induce seizures in your brain. I got a concussion.
A Lot has happened over the past two years, and especially the past 6 months.
I spent the whole postpartum depression period just trying to keep my head above water. Therapy wasn’t an option at that point because my thoughts were so irrational.
When I think of my massage therapist urging me to recover, I picture myself sitting down in front of a therapist and just telling them all of this. Just kind of spitting out the last two years of my life and having them say ‘Wow. That is a Lot for any one person to handle.’ I think that’s probably going to be a big part of my recovery. Validation.
I think the reason I keep thinking about that moment in the water is because that’s how I feel about my life right now.
ECT saved my life.
I would 100% do it again if given the same scenario and same choices.
But it’s made me a bit dumb. Short-term memory loss is common following ECT. For some people, memories return. For others, they do not.
In my case, I am experiencing complete gaps in memory and a few other cognitive issues. I keep forgetting the right noun for things, which for an English major with honours is quite embarrassing. I was telling a story the other day about meeting a police officer at ‘one of those places that pull you over and check if you’re drinking.’ Checkstop. A checkstop. I could not for the life of me recall the word.
When we were in Ontario, Ryan’s friends hosted this amazing post-wedding wedding celebration at their house. A few days ago, I asked Ryan why X and Y friends weren’t there. He looked at me and said ‘Em- they were there. You sat beside Y and talked to her for like an hour.’
Being a bipolar person with IBS, I lost all sense of pride a long time ago. But these gaps in cognition, they are embarrassing if I let them be.
What’s harder is not remembering the details about some of the big things. My stepmom died in June. I don’t even remember what date. My stepmom was very, Very important to me. She was one of my biggest mental health supporters. She was there for me through everything and loved me like her own. We used to say that we were ‘the blind leading the blind’, because we took turns supporting each other through various crises in our lives, even if we didn’t have a clue what we were doing.
She died of cancer. She died in hospice. I remember going to visit her often with the girls. I remember dressing the girls up in ridiculous dresses to make Cindi smile. I remember being depressed as hell and going to the hospice as often as I could.
But I don’t remember the day she died. I haven’t been to her condo since. I haven’t done any of the work that one has to do after someone they love passes. I’m supposed to be her executor and I I don’t have the brain for it.
And due to my illness, I haven’t had a chance yet to grieve.
Yesterday, I changed the sheets on Ryan and I’s bed. I found some old sheets of Cindi’s in a bag downstairs that Victoria must have sent home with me or brought to me following her passing. The sheets didn’t fit our bed but the pillowcases did. And they smelled like Her. They smelled like perfume and clean laundry and the smell of the inside of her condo. They smelled like Cindi. I mashed them as close as I could to my nose and stood there and inhaled. I don’t know how long I stood in my room, just smelling them.
A few tears came to my eyes. I wanted to grieve. I wanted to remember her. And yet- I don’t want to cry. I’m so afraid of negative emotions after 5.5 months of depression, I’m afraid to let myself cry again.
I looked up the definition of it and I really like the one from http://www.dictionary.com.
It cites recovery as:
“The regaining of or possibility of regaining something lost or taken away.
The restoration or return to health from sickness.
The restoration or return to any former and better state or condition.
The time required for recovering.
Or- something that is gained in recovering.”
I like those definitions. They focus on the positive. Not what I’ve lost, but rather what I can stand to gain back. Former and better. Restoration of something lost or taken away. I want those things. I want them mentally, spiritually and physically.
I like that in the definition, it mentions time. Recovery is a verb. It is something that happens over time. It is gradual.
I am in recovery.