The other day while scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed, I saw something that stopped my heart. It was a sweet photo posted by a mama-friend, talking about how lovely her day had been with her baby; a day filled with outings in the sunshine, picking berries all with her baby in her arms. The caption was simple, but it ended with, “…just how I’d imagined it.” With that photo I got a momentary glance into their life and I really believed that it was just how she’d imagined it. This short, simple line stopped me in my tracks and moved me to tears. Why should these words affect me so?
Because my life since I became a mother is exactly opposite of just how I had imagined it.
On December 11th I was given an incredible baby boy, and a severe case of mental illness. Since that day, I have woken up in the morning hoping so desperately for my brain to be back to “normal” again, or even just a few steps closer to that. I go to sleep most nights defeated, exhausted, and very seldom hopeful for the next day. Longing for a tomorrow where I am Hannah again. Needless to say, Hannah hasn’t come back yet.
Everyone keeps telling me that I’ll probably never be “old Hannah”, but I’ll be someone even better. That I’ll come out of this on the other side, healed and happier than ever. With each passing day that I live trapped within my own mind, I find that harder and harder to believe. I feel discouraged, hopeless and honestly, fucking angry.
In the life that I had imagined for myself, I would be indescribably happy. I would be faced with the ups and downs of parenthood and relationships, meanwhile being blissfully in love with my baby and my life. I would wake up in the morning excited about life, or well, anything. I would go to sleep at night exhausted, but in the way you want to be; tired because you’ve filled the day to the brim, and now you’re ready to rest and rebuild for the next busy day ahead. I would bask in the greatness of each moment spent with Oliver, and be completely undistracted by psychosis, anxiety, panic, or depression. I would post sickeningly cute pictures of me with my son and caption them appropriately with words of just how over-the-moon I am. I know what you’re thinking…“normal life isn’t always rainbows and butterflies.” And to that I respond, when you are in the throws of mental illness, normal life IS rainbows and butterflies. Most importantly, in this life of mine that I had imagined, I would be me. The old me.
I am a lot of things every day. I am up and down several times; I am hopeful and hopeless in the same breath. But today, I will choose, again, to believe all of you. I’ll choose to believe that some day I will be better. I believe that someday I will look back at this pain-staking time in my life as just a “bad phase”, and that this won’t be my forever. I believe that someday I will be taking pictures of my family in the sunshine, and sitting in bed at the end of the day reflecting on my beautiful life and day. I will share my photos proudly with the world and the caption will read, “just how I’d imagined it,” and I will mean it.