Are You Afraid of the Dark?

alphonse-mucha-the-moon

This used to be a show I would watch as a kid. Any kid from the 90’s probably remembers it. Spooky stories, told by a campfire, meant to send chills down your spine, or send you running to find protection under your huge comforter. I’ve never been into scary movies, but this tame show I could handle. Usually.

I have never bought in to our culture’s obsession with fear. And yet, I am drawn to darkness, mysticism, and enchanting tales. But this post is not really about that… this post is about the darkness of our own hearts. The winter solstice has just passed, and once the year turns to new, the re-emergence of light begins to feel imminent. I have many hopes for 2015, but my biggest is for the re-emergence of light in my own heart.

As a writer, sometimes I share my words openly, and sometimes I hide them away. In my last post, I shared words that were raw, and I was met with a response that left me feeling even more torn open. It left me feeling like I wanted to hide. So I allowed myself to sink into my darkness, crawl into my shell, for a time. But hiding in my shell defeats the whole purpose of starting this blog in the first place.

Just about one year ago, I began to write openly and honestly about my experience of becoming a mama. I have written tender words, I have shared honest stories, I have opened my life up to be viewed by others, only ever in the hopes that someone might find connection, comfort, solace in my words. I believe in the power of vulnerability, and truth, and though sometimes I am afraid of the dark, I still go there.

So now, here is a glimpse into what I have been hiding…. Written on the solstice, in my journal.

I am not afraid of my darkness. For me darkness is fear, anxiety, feeling insufficient, feeling small. Darkness is self-criticism. Darkness is doubt. darkness is silencing. Darkness is failing, floundering, not asking for help. Darkness is perfectionism, and trying to do it all alone.

I am not afraid of my darkness. I have witnessed it, lived it, and now I am ready to leave it behind. Slowly, I am stepping into my light. Slowly, the light within is re-emerging. The solstice is a reminder that this does not happen immediately. The journey from darkness to light is traveled in seconds, moments. Quietly and tenderly the light whispers back into the day. Gently our bodies emerge from the depths of their slumber. Slowly we step out onto new earth.

There are still lessons to be learned. The darkness is our teacher, healer. Wrapped and embraced in her heavy cloak, we tap into deep knowing.

I know that this life is precious. I know that my time here is sacred. I know that my choice to live this gift fully means that often I am still figuring things out. That is ok. The day that I stop changing and growing, learning and moving, is the day the darkness takes over. That day is not today. That day is not for a long time.

I am not afraid of the darkness. But perhaps I need to learn not to fear the light.

<3 Jozie

alphonse-mucha-the-moon

Alphonse Mucha

The Moon Print

Deep Breath, and Let GO… The Truth About Postpartum Depression

post partum depression

I imagine that’s what the leaves say just before they decide to fall from the trees.

They don’t know what they are getting themselves into. They don’t know how it’s going to feel, what is going to happen, what the outcome will be. They just do it, because they know they have to. That’s what I am doing right now. I am writing this post, because I know I have to.

I read an awesome post today by Renegade Mothering. And a month or so ago I read an awesome post by a fellow yogi mama and friend over at The Householder’s Path. And after months of conversation with my very good friend here at Crinoline Logic…. and a little inspiration from none other than this song… I am finally ready to do this. Deep Breath, let it go.

I have struggled with depression for much of my adult (and young adult) life. It was at bay, and under control without the help of medication for several years, until I entered into the postpartum world. Now it is back, and like a needy child it is tugging at me every day.

I haven’t hidden the fact that for me transitioning into mamahood has been challenging. It’s challenging for all of us. But I have yet to talk openly about the dark side of mamahood. The dark feelings, thoughts, shame, guilt, anxiety, and utter exhaustion of depression. Mostly I haven’t talked about it, because I haven’t wanted to believe it was true.

I was depressed as a teenager. Broken up family, an eating disorder, panic attacks, suicidal aspirations, a hospitalization, the whole bit. I got through that period of time, with support from counselors, my parents, medication, my now husband, and yoga. When I was 21 years old I weaned myself off of anti-depressants and anxiety meds. I committed to my yoga practice and meditation, and never looked back. The tools I learned in yoga allowed me to keep the darkness at bay. I became a yoga teacher because I wanted to share these tools. I have been teaching and sharing yoga for over 5 years now, but I have never openly talked about why.

When Robin Williams recently committed suicide, I couldn’t say anything about it. I literally had no words, written, verbal, or otherwise. All I had was sadness, and a need to look away. I wanted to say how I understood, and yet didn’t understand. I wanted to say how I was angry, how we all need to do more for those with mental illness, how no one should have to suffer these thoughts alone. But I couldn’t. Because it is the nature of depression, to be alone, to suffer silently. Why?

I have been reading many of Brene Brown’s books lately. She is a researcher and writer on the topic of Shame. If you have not yet read anything by her, I suggest you start here.¬†The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are. Only because that’s where I started, and it hooked me enough to read more. basically she talks about how shame keeps us in our neat little boxes, isolates us, and makes us feel alone, when the truth is what we are experiencing (no matter what it is) is human, and others are experiencing it too, and there is no reason to go through it alone. But in order to come together, we have to let go of our fear of what others will think of us. We have to risk being vulnerable.

I never really realized I had postpartum depression. I went to see my doctor when my son was 9 months old and I was still unbelievably exhausted. I had him check my levels of everything. There had to be something I was deficient in. Vitamin D, B, Iron, Estrogen, something… he said everything was within the normal range. He asked my some questions, and before I realized that he was screening me, told me he thought I was depressed.

The word made my heart sink. Depressed? No. No, I’m not depressed, I’m just tired. And I’m not interested in things I would typically like because my life is taken over by a baby right now. And I’m struggling to get out of bed because I only slept 6 hours because this baby doesn’t sleep yet. And I can’t fall asleep at night because I’m worried about the ever growing pile of things that don’t ever get done because of this baby, and….

Fast forward 6 months. I’m still tired. I still find it difficult to motivate myself to do things that I know I will enjoy. I still struggle to get out of bed. I still struggle to fall asleep. I still don’t want to believe that I am depressed.

But it’s time. It’s time for us to talk about this. It’s time for me to stop being afraid of what you will think. It’s time for me be vulnerable, and brave, and authentic. This blog is not a mommy blog about what products I love. This blog is not a mommy blog about humorous daily anecdotes of my child’s life. This blog is not a DIY craft show. (Although someday maybe it will be). This blog is a blog about the challenges of motherhood. This blog is about real life. This blog is about being honest, and sharing stories. This blog is about the workings of the heart, the heart of a mama.

Yes, my heart hold sadness right now. Really, it holds a whole lot of confusion. It doesn’t know what is going to happen, what the outcome will be, how everything is going to feel. My heart since taking the leap into motherhood, has been careening down through crisp air waiting to land on something soft (hopefully), just as the leaves do each fall. And even though many times I am scared, and many times I question why on earth I thought it would be a good idea to take this leap, and many days are simply a struggle, I am still grateful to be here. Because along with this sadness, and along with the darkest feelings, my heart holds love, the purest, clearest, most radiant love. I chose this journey. I wanted deeply to walk this path. I would not take back a day of it. But finally I am ready to vulnerable, to be honest, to be completely me.

I am a mama. I struggle with postpartum depression. I am not alone. And neither are you.

post partum depression