What I Remember About Postpartum Depression

This post was easy to write–because I’ve been thinking about it for weeks–but scary to publish.

Big deep breath … here we go.

I recently read this blog post from a fellow mother with bipolar disorder recounting her experiences with postpartum depression. It’s courageous and beautiful and painful–and brought back many of my own experiences. It also inspired me to write this post.

I don’t remember much about my postpartum with Turbo. I was so, so sleep deprived for 6 months straight. I remember at one point telling a friend I’d been living on 2-3 hours of sleep that whole time. So the sleep deprivation has erased many of those memories. I’m sure I’ve conveniently forgotten some as well. Here’s what I do remember:

I remember crying every single day for 6 months straight. Often multiple times a day.

I remember wanting to run away. Thinking about how much I hated being a mother. Wishing it had never happened. Then crying out of guilt the next minute because of course I wanted to be a mother, how could I ever think that?

I remember pleading with my child to please, please sleep. And please, please take the bottle so I could get back on meds.

I remember meds helping … but not enough.

I remember throwing the bottle across the room when he kept refusing to take it.

I remember noticing I was bouncing him quite hard one afternoon, and realizing for the first time how someone could shake a baby.

I remember setting him in his crib, still crying, because I couldn’t take it anymore.

I remember countless nights of insomnia. I was so, so exhausted and yet as soon as I got in bed, I couldn’t sleep.

I remember lying awake at night, making plans to get up, drive to the grocery store, buy some alcohol, come home and get drunk so I could shut my freaking brain off and finally sleep.

I remember desperately talking myself out of that plan time and time and time again. (I don’t drink alcohol for religious reasons.)

I remember slamming my head against the dresser behind me one night when Turbo had his umpteenth cold and I was trying to clear his nose out in the middle of the night so he could just please sleep, and he was crying and fighting me and not sleeping and not sleeping and not sleeping.

I remember many nights of laying in bed and talking myself out of going to the kitchen to get a knife to cut myself. But I had to self-harm, I was going crazy, so I “settled” by hitting myself in the head as hard as I could.

I remember spending two weeks of Turbo’s sixth month of life in bed. In the morning, I’d get him, grab his bottles and diapers, eat enough to sustain me, and crawl back into bed. He was literally the only thing that kept me going.

I remember so many out of body experiences. (This is a form of psychosis.) Two while I was driving. One in particular was scary because it was rush hour traffic and the cars whizzing past me seemed so harmless and far away. I remember telling myself, “Just get off the road. You’ve got to get off the road. Your baby–your entire world–is in this car and he’s depending on you.”

I remember Thanksgiving when my brother came to visit and I had a breakdown of epic proportions and he and the Mister had to pick up the pieces and finish cooking dinner while I slept off the insanity.

I remember dreading the night.

I remember dreading the morning.

When Turbo dropped to two naps a day, things got much better and the postpartum depression cleared. When I got pregnant this time, I had a plan. After Nugget was born, it took two weeks for me to get up to a viable dosage of my multivitamin, and in that time I could see that my postpartum was on a path to be much worse this time. But then I started taking enough, and the world was a brighter place. I still cry from time to time, because being a mom is hard, and newborns are really, really hard, but it’s not the same. I’m still tired, but it’s not the same. No more desires to run away. No more thinking I hate being a mom. No more dreading each coming day. I’m not happy every moment, and my body has readjusted so bipolar depression is hanging around the fringes waiting to pounce. But I am sane. I am mostly balanced–and when I’m not, I can get back in balance fairly easily.

I love my children. I love being a mother. I’m not happy every moment, but there’s a bud of ever-present joy nestled in my heart.

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Hey, I feel like a human again!

Hello, blogland! Last I posted, I was 32ish weeks pregnant and 3 weeks away from moving into a new house. Well, it’s been 4 months, and I’m now in the new house and I have a new baby! Nugget was evicted on his due date, November 3rd, and now that he’s 2 months old he’s sleeping well enough that I feel like a human again. It’s a miracle, I tell you. Turbo was a terrible sleeper and napper until he was 6 months, so I was a zombie for a very long time. Nugget isn’t a perfect sleeper, but he’s good enough! Plus, I’ve got some amazing multivitamins (the ones I’ve mentioned before, specifically formulated for mental health) that are chock full of B vitamins, which help a ton. Night and day difference between this time and the last, my friends. Night and day.

It feels good to be blogging again. I’ve been itching to blog more about mental health, as well as vulnerability. And of course writing. And I can’t wait to reconnect with all of y’all out there. I’ll be commenting on your blogs very soon!

I usually start my year off with a post about my goals. I will do that again and soon. But I haven’t thought about it much yet. Still in survival mode to a degree, plus this week I got a wild hair and decided to potty train Turbo. How’s it going? Well, this week hasn’t been my finest, let me just say that. But he’s progressing, and doesn’t completely hate me, so there’s that!

How was your Christmas and New Year’s, lovelies?

First Quarter Goals Review

This started out as a What’s Up Wednesday post. I even published it and went to link it when I saw that’s no longer a thing. So this may seem a bit disjointed, but I’m kind of ready to get off the computer and eat some breakfast, and don’t feel like making it smoother. :)

First off, I finished the first draft of THROUGH CLOUDED EYES and I did it early, even! Wahoo! I finished it on March 29th, two days early. The word count is definitely low, but that’s always the case with my first drafts. I’ll layer in more introspection and detail as I revise. Plus, I need to add at least one more chapter. But I’m not thinking about that for now because I have a completed first draft!! And it feels soooo good! I’m going to let it sit for at least a month, though I’m still submitting chapters to my writing group on occasion, so I’m not getting a completely clean break from it.

I was supposed to get to ILLUMINATE THE NIGHT as soon as I finished TCE, but we started the month with lots of sickness in our house. I’ve been napping every day with Turbo, instead of writing. And I don’t feel bad about it. That’s how life is sometimes. But I need to buckle down. I thought I could go ahead and start writing, but I realized the changes I made are negating some aspects of the existing plot, so I need to do more tinkering before I can get to it. The thought was really discouraging me last week, and I told my writing group I was wondering if that means I should just give up on it, but they emphatically told me that NO I shouldn’t give up. That was encouraging to hear. I’ve been working on this story in some form for over 6 years now, and it’s hard to know if I’m too close to be subjective.

In January, I set some goals for the first quarter of the year. Let’s see how I did:

-Finish the first draft of THROUGH CLOUDED EYES. I’m currently at 30k of a projected 80k. Totally doable. SUCCESS!!! HUZZAH!!

-Decide what to do about the currently-drawered ILLUMINATE THE NIGHT. I love that book and I believe in it, and I need to figure out its future. SUCCESS AGAIN!! HUZZAH X2!

-Get a rough draft of my publishing plan. More on that later. Another success! I’ll post about this soon–promise!

-Decide about my super secret idea. Obvs, more on that later. So, I was thinking about offering editing services, but have decided against it for the time being. My life just isn’t in the right place right now. And that’s okay. But–this is a success! Yay!

-Blog every week. Start blogging about mental illness too. Fail. Not even close. But I’m not stressing about it.

Some non-writing-related things I want to do this year:

-Send birthday cards. I’ve never really done this, but I want to change that. Because everyone likes real mail. Success so far!

-Cook dairy-free, grain-free dinners. The Mister is mostly paleo for bike racing, so I’d like to make dinners we can eat together as a family. And it’s good to end your day with a healthy meal. Fail! And I don’t care! It’s been a stressful first 3 months of the year, and I’ve been in survival mode for much of it.

-Get back into couponing. I’m actually starting that this week! Fail! Hah!

-Budget on a weekly basis. Gulp. Another fail!

So, I got 5 out of 9 goals. That’s over half. Not bad! I haven’t thought about any for the next quarter, so I’ll ruminate on that the next week and come up with some for next week.

WUW: So close!

What’s Up Wednesday is an easy and fun weekly blog hop that’s hosted by Jaime Morrow and Erin L. Funk. All you do is answer the four main questions, then visit the other participants’ blogs to see what they’re up to this week. Join us! Jooooiiiin uussss!

wuw2WHAT I’M READING

For book club this month, we’re reading Living Among Cannibals and Other Women’s Adventures by Michelle Slung. It’s a quick NF read about women doing awesome, adventurous stuff like skiing to the magnetic north pole with a sled dog as their only companion, or living in the rainforests of Africa to study mountain gorillas. It’s a fun book that makes you say, “Yeah women!” Also, I’m still listening to Enchantment by Orson Scott Card. Audiobooks aren’t my thing, I’ve learned. I wish they were! But, alas, no.

WHAT I’M WRITING

I’m into the 3rd act of THROUGH CLOUDED EYES, though I really need to go back to the second half of the 2nd act and make some big changes. I find myself getting burned out, mostly on editing but also only fully fleshing out my scenes and not just getting the dialogue and scene-blocking on there. This happened with ILLUMINATE THE NIGHT as well, so I think it’s safe to say it’s a weakness/tendency of mine. But I’m getting so close! Actually, after I get those edits in, I’ll be able to start the climax! It feels so good to be this close to finishing another manuscript.

My goal for this week is just to keep on keeping on. I’m trying to add 1300ish words a day, but today I’m feeling super burned out and decided to take the day off and focus on blogging instead. Then tomorrow I can tackle those edits and then continue my forward progress.

WHAT WORKS FOR ME

Writing every day. I used to think I wasn’t one of those writers, but I’ve been pretty good about writing every day since January 2014, and honestly I can’t imagine going back. Yes, I miss a day (sometimes two) every now and then, but the momentum I keep by writing every day is amazing. My brain really is used to being creative around 1 pm every day. Brains–aren’t they amazing? ^_^

WHAT ELSE I’M UP TO

I joined Camp NaNo for next month! If you’re doing it too, come find me! My goal is 30k on ItN, but that’s kind of an arbitrary number I pulled out of a hat, because I’ll be using a lot of the existing draft.

I also finally joined Instragram with an author account. I’m @krisatkinswrites (of course)–come find me if you’re on the ‘gram! I’m really enjoying it as an easy way to connect to the world wide web 3 times a week.

How was your week?

WUW: New Year, Not New Me + a Giveaway!

What’s Up Wednesday is an easy and fun weekly blog hop that’s hosted by Jaime Morrow and Erin L. Funk. All you do is answer the four main questions, then visit the other participants’ blogs to see what they’re up to this week. Join us! Jooooiiiin uussss!

Snowy HousesWHAT I’M READING

Last year, I finally jumped on the Garth Nix train. I … have absolutely no idea why I didn’t read Sabriel in high school. I remember seeing it on the shelves in the book store where I worked, and I devoured fantasy but … for some reason I never read it. And I’m partly kicking myself, but partly not because I’m so enjoying reading them now! I’m on the tome that is Lirael, and though it is long, it is lovely. I really loved Sabriel as a character, but I love Lirael even more, and can’t wait to see where this book is going. (I’m in the 200s out of 700ish pages.)

WHAT I’M WRITING

In my goals post, I set a goal to finish THROUGH CLOUDED EYES by the end of March. And I’m getting closer every day! In fact, I’ve written at least 100 words every day. Truth be told, it’s never been more than 300+ because I’m slogging through the middle, and also because I’ve been writing at night (for various reasons), but starting today I’m officially taking back nap time as my writing time. So hopefully I’ll pick up pace! My goal for the week is to get back to writing during nap time (on weekdays … I’m more flexible on weekends) and to continue writing at least 100 words every day.

WHAT WORKS FOR ME

Those 100 words a day man … I love it. Anyone can write 100 words in a day. That’s a paragraph. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. And usually, when I look up my word count to see if I’ve hit 100, I’m already past 200.

WHAT ELSE I’M UP TO

It’s been snowy, snowy, snowy here, though Monday it warmed up to the 50s and the snow has finally started to melt. Such is life here in Denver. Get real cold + dump a bunch of snow then warm up + melt it all away. Rinse and repeat.  I actually really like it because it cuts down on piles of dirty, yucky snow and it gives some variety and breaks up the monotony of winter. Plus, we continue to get 300+ days of sunshine here in the Mile High City. Have I mentioned before how much I love Denver? No? You’re lying. ;)

And last but not least, I’m hosting a giveaway! Last year I participated in the cover reveal for my CP Kate Scott’s book, THE EVOLUTION OF EMILY. Now, I’m going to give a copy away to one lucky reader! Kate is a fantastic writer who creates characters you will miss long after you finish the book. I’m so excited to spread the word about EoE!

EoE_Social_Media_Promos

Available now!

To enter, simply comment on this post! Easy! I’ll run the contest for two weeks and close it at 11:59 PM on Tuesday 1/20/14. Good luck!

Now Let’s Talk Goals

Ahh, the beginning of a new year. A time for reflection and goal making. Yep, I’m not a resolutions girl. I make goals. I’ve been thinking about what I’d like to accomplish this year, and think I’ve got it figured out. But this year, I’m going to do things a little differently … I’m going to make my writing goals one quarter at a time.

-Finish the first draft of THROUGH CLOUDED EYES. I’m currently at 30k of a projected 80k. Totally doable.

-Decide what to do about the currently-drawered ILLUMINATE THE NIGHT. I love that book and I believe in it, and I need to figure out its future.

-Get a rough draft of my publishing plan. More on that later.

-Decide about my super secret idea. Obvs, more on that later.

-Blog every week. Start blogging about mental illness too.

Some non-writing-related things I want to do this year:

-Send birthday cards. I’ve never really done this, but I want to change that. Because everyone likes real mail.

-Cook dairy-free, grain-free dinners. The Mister is mostly paleo for bike racing, so I’d like to make dinners we can eat together as a family. And it’s good to end your day with a healthy meal.

-Get back into couponing. I’m actually starting that this week!

-Budget on a weekly basis. Gulp.

What about you? Have you set any goals or resolutions for the year? Anything you want to accomplish?

The Evolution of Emily Cover Reveal!

I’m so excited to be a part of my friend Kate Scott’s cover reveal for her upcoming book THE EVOLUTION OF EMILY! Are you ready for it? Because it’s an awesome cover:

EoE_CoverI really enjoyed Kate’s debut novel, COUNTING TO D, but I loved THE EVOLUTION OF EMILY. I had the great pleasure of beta reading two drafts, and I’m so excited to read the final version. The characters are wonderful, as always, and Emily’s story is one everyone can relate to. Here’s the blurb:

Emily Charles knows how to run away. Away from her overprotective, agoraphobic mother. Away from her biology-obsessed, autistic sister. Away from her quiet sheltered claustrophobic homeschooled life. When Emily’s escape plan involves starting her junior year at Kennedy High School, she realizes she’s no longer running away. Now she’s running towards. Towards her quiet thoughtful cross-country teammate, August. Towards her zany enthusiastic lab partner, Miles. Towards friendship, love, independence, and life.

Thanks to her sister’s special interest in biology, Emily knows all about the birds and the bees. Boys are a lot more confusing!

Readers who enjoyed Counting to D will enjoy Scott’s second title, also set at Kennedy High School.

The book comes out in November, so get ready! Click here to go to the Goodreads page for the book.

EoE_Social_Media_Promos