That’s the word I was looking for. Drowning.
I was drowning.
I thought this to myself as my sobs slowed. I was sitting in my truck in the Walmart parking lot. My head was bent down and my seat pushed back so I was hidden from view. I sat there crying. My thoughts racing a million miles a minute. Not really comprehending anything. Just reacting.
Reacting to what happened in the toothpaste aisle inside the Walmart. Remembering parts of the scene that had just come back to me after so many years among blips of how embarrassed I was walking out of the store.
I was shopping for a few things absentmindedly until I walked into that aisle and scanned the shelves for the brand I wanted. Then, suddenly I have a vivid flashback of one of the times he choked me. This memory I had forgotten about for quite a while. It was one of the only times he took my head and banged it against the wall as he was choking me. Its hard to describe what I experienced during that flashback. My thoughts stopped. I was completely gripped by the memory, possessed even. Walmart disappeared around me and I was feeling every single hit to the back of my head. I felt my blood and air cut off. I felt his fingers around my throat. I felt my eyes bulge and the tendril of drool that slid down the edge of my lip to my chin. I remembered the four walls and ceiling around me. I remembered the panic. Returning once again to the terror of having the shit beat out of me by this monster.
And, seemingly just as suddenly, I’m back in the aisle. But I immediately realize that I’ve been standing there for a few minutes after making eye contact with someone further down that aisle. As I came back to my body’s sensations I could tell I was standing there for awhile too, but how long was I zonked out for? What kind of look was on my face that made that onlooker look at me like that?
Before walking out I ditched the basket of the few other items I had. Made a bee-line out to my truck. Started sobbing as soon as I slammed the door. I made sure to shift my chair out of sight of the outside world and just sobbed. This was the last straw. I couldn’t remember having a flashback quite so intense since I first got off drugs. Before I started practicing mindfulness, meditation and yoga. They worked so well in the past to emotionally handle these flashbacks.
Well now, they weren’t working. A few weeks prior to this episode I found out I was pregnant. I was genuinely happy about that. Overjoyed because I knew this was the child I was going to keep. I wasn’t an addict anymore, I was in love and engaged, I was working on crafting my own brand of mindfulness teachings for recovering addicts, had a part time job, lived in a beautiful city… everything in my life was perfect. Such a far cry from the state I was in for my first two pregnancies. One from a man who went to prison for the unspeakable things he did to me, at the helm of my addictions. The other happening at the height of my addictions, subjecting my precious second child to my pathetic repetitive relapsing before finally deciding to get help. I was so far away from all of that. So safe.
So why was I feeling so depressed? Anxious? So quick to anger? I couldn’t compare this pregnancy to my first two because of all the shit I was going through during them. I had no happy feelings to compare this one to. No happy circumstances. Everything connected to pregnancy for me was pain. Agony. Self-hatred. I gave my babies to a beautiful family for an open-adoption; not only to get them away from me, but also to be spared from the pain of never knowing who their biological mother was. They didn’t deserve to be around me though. I knew this from the moment I knew they were on the way. The first time was clear because my captor continually beat me within an inch of death, was on drugs, and instilled a complete Stockholm syndrome in me that kept me from escaping for so long. I knew she deserved to be saved from being raised by a mother who had just been through that hell. She didn’t deserve that.
But once she was gone… there was only emptiness. The void of brokenness and shame we all have inside us eclipsed every other aspect of my life until all I saw was black. And because of him, I knew what drugs felt like now. He had gotten me addicted to heroin before I found out I was pregnant with his child. Giving me this drug and then not letting me leave when I discovered what it was. What he used to control me. I knew what that drug felt like now. And I knew it would numb this pain. I knew I would no longer fear the dark but sink further into it. I no longer cared for my life. I already lost that game. I was already broken. Why the fuck even go to a therapist? What’s the point? I just don’t want to feel anymore. Heroin will give that to me.
And that’s what I did. And every other kind of drug that can be injected. Meth and heroin are my FAVS. Especially mixed together. It took me no time to lose my period since I was so emaciated. In fact, I noticed right away when I got pregnant again because for the first time in years I noticed my boobs a tad fuller, and as a meth head I was a perpetual twig. So now, not only was I a piece of shit drug addict, but I’m also doing the same thing to this child that happened to my first. I can’t even kill myself out of shame because it would literally be the only worse thing to do to my child than what I’ve already done.
Not to say I didn’t try to quit. Meth was pretty easy to kick as was everything else… except heroin. That was the one demon I just couldn’t shake. Every time I tried to taper I relapsed. Every time I tried to quit cold turkey I relapsed. I was so afraid that if I showed up to the hospital withdrawing from heroin they would lock me up. I didn’t want to have my next kid in jail.
But when I finally did and they got me on methadone instead, I was relieved. No lock up for me. The child went to the same family too. Another child lost.
Now… this child… finally. Finally I have a chance to be a good mother.
So WHY the fuck am I having an emotional breakdown in the Walmart parking lot? I’ve spent years practicing mindfulness to prevent this EXACT emotional, reactionary bullshit from happening! How in the holy hell is this shit not working now when I used it to pull myself successfully through a methadone detox, balanced and whole and happy after so much trauma?
It wasn’t just Walmart either. I had rage quit my part time job because of a dispute with the management’s insistence at giving me more hours than I could handle, fights with my fiancée were escalating consistently, and I was crying every day about the stupidest shit.
My fiancée and I had even talked a couple times about my mood swings possibly getting worse, like they were starting to do. Suggesting that I needed to talk to my doctor about it. That I was starting to unravel. I agreed at the time… but decided to put off calling the doc and just let her know during my next scheduled appointment. Part of me wanted to see if I could just learn to handle it on my own… because what kind of mindfulness teacher must I be if my own practices suddenly don’t work anymore? Because of, what, hormones? That’s no excuse.
But now it was just too much. That particular flashback with such brutal intensity was beyond what I was willing to deal with. After calling my ob-gyn and telling them what happened they got me in right away the same day. When I got called into a room and the doc came in I broke down and just let it all out. She immediately wanted me to go to the hospital to be evaluated, and I obliged. She also immediately wrote me a prescription for Prozac since that’s something I had when I was a teenager and responded well to it. Six hours later in the hospital I was told I had GAD (general anxiety disorder) and PTSD, in relation to antepartum depression. They recommended an outpatient treatment three days a week at a facility close by.
Interestingly enough I had been there before. A year prior I had visited this facility during my community outreach for addiction/PTSD/recovery related services, in efforts for collaboration and network building. How ironic that I should end up back there as a patient. Or maybe pathetic.
The program was 8 weeks. They only kept me for two and a half. I was starting to respond a bit to the Prozac and they felt I’d be okay from there on out. I was not shy about my knowledge of mindfulness and my experiences getting out of drugs. Everything they were teaching at this outpatient had countless similarities to the 8 week “overcome your addiction mindfully” program I myself had penned. I knew all this shit already.
But it was good to get out of the house and express it at least. I ultimately decided that my depression must be connected to the core aspects of my trauma that made mindfulness attractive to me in the first place. So I put it on hold. I stopped practicing. I stopped posting on social media about it. I stopped working on my books and courses. I stopped working altogether.
There is unfortunately nothing in this world that is a cure-all. The Prozac has definitely numbed me and balanced me enough so that I’m not a raging fireball of emotions throughout the day. But I can still feel the tides of ups and downs rocking back and forth through me. I still sit on the couch and stare at the four walls around me terrified of even going outside, wondering why I’m so depressed and unproductive. Wondering what kind of badass like me lets some stupid hormones get in the way of living her best life? Normal me would be working out, socializing, enjoying the beautiful spring and summer we’ve had so far.
But I just hide. I scroll through social media and comment/share shit still, but if someone comments or sends me a message I ignore it. I almost never answer the phone; I have to wait to hear the voicemail and maybe text back a day or two later. I’ve missed appointments. I’ve made no effort to socialize. The most I get out to go do is food shopping…. And I can’t believe I somehow feel ashamed of my preggo body because I’m still a hottie even with the bump, but I am. I live far away from family and have never wanted or needed their support more than I do now (well, I take that back, I’ve been in worse situations lol) but the kicker is, I can’t stand the idea of talking on the phone or having real conversations about what I’m going through with them. I’m not happy and perfect like I have been since I got off drugs, I’m miserable and depressed and automatically wonder if they’re going to wonder or worry about me relapsing again. That’s where everyone’s minds go when it comes to me showing any signs of instability or depression.
So I just hide. Stagnant. Petrified. Unsure of what to do. What kind of mindfulness teacher am I?
I wondered for a long time how I could ever redeem myself. How can I pull myself away from this with a grand lesson or understanding that will bring me back to that same place of serenity I found in the course of my methadone detox?
Maybe it was something I had been feeling for a long time but didn’t know how to say before. Well, I’m pregnant now and I kind of don’t give a fuck about anything. Kind of giving me just enough balls to be completely honest. Just lay it all out there. Tell everyone how much I’m suffering over this shit cause, what, am I trying to pretend that I’m some kind of enlightened guru? L-O-FUCKING-L. I’m a junkie. I’m an addict. This is real shit, real talk. Ain’t no froo froo hullabulloo bullshit up in here. I used mindfulness to beat that shit but it didn’t take the degenerate personality away. I’m not some guru. I’m me. That’s who I’ve needed to be this whole time.
I’ve ultimately been chained by what I thought a mindfulness teacher should be like. I thought I wasn’t best serving anyone who’d seek my help if I “looked” like who I really was; a raw, no-filter, balls to the wall with bluntness, former junkie. Maybe I just needed to be that, and quit denying it. Say what I really thought. What I’ve really felt.
So I opened my laptop for the first time in two weeks and typed this up. Do I feel better? I guess. We’ll see in a few days once I’ve posted it. The best way this could turn out is someone who’s also pregnant and ends up reading it won’t feel so bad for dealing with antepartum depression. I mean, hell, even tough-ass mindfulness teachers are getting crushed by it. Maybe this will be the only thing I write during my pregnancy. For now, it’s a good start.