Visualize Whirled Peas

October 2, 2008

Her name was Svetlana. She spoke with a thick Slavic accent and wore a pantsuit, which for some reason made me think that she looked like a banker. A Russian banker. Which didn’t predispose me to telling her my secrets, but still: I had promised myself that I would do this, that I would seek help, and this place, this tidy office with a worn leatherette sofa and wilting fern and shelves upon shelves of books on psychiatry and therapy and parenting, was where I had arrived. This woman, the occupant of this office, would help me.

So, she says, peering at the file in her hands, you vant harm your child?

Um… no… that’s not…

She frowns. Say here, you vant harm your child… you have violent thoughts…

No, no, that’s not exactly right… I just…

Is chicken scratch. I cannot to read. You look, tell me vat it say. She hands me the file with my psychiatric referral.

Um… I squint at the inky scrawl “…reports intrusive thoughts of harming baby… reports wanting to drop baby on bed, escape home, reports experiencing feelings as violent, aggressive… denies intent to harm… denies intent to harm self… denies suicidal ideation… reports being afraid of intrusive thoughts.” I cringe. I’d rather not be reading this. “Sleep deprivation. Previous treatment for anxiety. Supportive husband.” I hand the file back to her. I didn’t say that I felt violent. I said that the feeling itself was violent. Like a shock. It frightened me.

Is frightening, yes, these thoughts. She looks me in the eye. I know you do not vant harm baby.

Which is as good a basis for a therapeutic relationship as any, I suppose. I could, I decided in that instant, overlook the pantsuit. I could work with this woman.

We spoke at length, Svetlana and I. Or rather, she spoke, and asked the occasional question, which suited me. I hate psychiatric therapy, I hate feeling that I’m being analyzed. I hate listening to the sound of my own voice droning on and on about can’t sleep motherhood hard feel anxious yes family history of depression no not suicidal just TIRED TIRED OH SO TIRED. I just want a solution. I just wanted her to give me a solution.

And Svetlana was all about the solutions. First, we get you to sleep, no? I give you Ativan; you sleep when baby sleep. Zen, we test blood: thyroid, B12, glucose… your body, I zink, it is PFFT!… zen we meet again; we talk… is good to talk… zen maybe, maybe I give you somezing for depression. Not now. Now, you are tired. You are post-traumatic stress. You need sleep and peas. She leans forward and grabs my hand. Sleep and peas.

I had to think about that for a second.

Yes, I say, finally. Peace would be nice.

Peas is nice, she says. I help you to get peas. She drops her voice to a whisper. I tell you somezing. You are not bad mother. You are good mother. She pats my hand. Not to forget.

No, I say. Not to forget. Thank you.

Peas is good. Today, I will fill the prescription for Ativan and will go to bed early with that little bottle of peas while the husband takes the baby and leaves me in the sweet, sweet quiet dark. With my peas. With my peace. So that I will rest, so that tomorrow will dawn brighter, so that I’ll move a step or two closer to feeling like the good mother that I know I am.


Note to you all, who do so much to sustain me: if you have e-mailed me in the last month or so and have not had a response from me, please forgive – I am completely overwhelmed and doing the best I can. I read everything. I respond as best I can, but that hasn’t been enough to keep control of my inbox. Please know that I so appreciate the support and the contact. I really, really do.

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    Mommy Melee October 2, 2008 at 9:50 pm

    I admire you so very, very much.

    Lisa b October 2, 2008 at 10:00 pm

    ahh whirrled peas.
    I like Svetlana.
    I’ve just booked a flight.
    NOT with westjet….

    paper napkin October 2, 2008 at 10:14 pm

    Dude, I feel for you. I had such oppressive PPD with every single kid. OY. Things will get better. Rilly. Lord it’s so hard.

    No Mother Earth October 2, 2008 at 10:27 pm

    Sleep and peas might just become my new mantra.

    Sleep well, my friend.

    Mia October 2, 2008 at 10:34 pm

    Sleep is good.

    It’s my favorite pastime that I have hardly been able to partake in.

    Hang in there. It all changes as they get older. It doesn’t make it better for now, just know that there’s light at the end of the tunnel…

    For now, shut out the light. Turn off the computer. Go to sleep. Peas.

    Maria October 2, 2008 at 11:12 pm

    I’m glad you are getting some sleep tonight. Tomorrow will be brighter (or at the very least less exhausting)

    She sure is strange! October 2, 2008 at 11:26 pm

    15.5 years ago I had an emergency c-section and nearly died. My son was born dead but revived by a very attentive assistant to my doctor. I had undiagnosed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Panic and Anxiety Disorder and Post Partum Depression. It went undiagnosed until my second child was about 9 months old(almost 3 years).

    Since the first one’s birth, I had intrusive thoughts that I wasn’t my son’s real mom, that his parents were going to come get him and I was just a baby sitter. Another intrusive thought was that I wanted something to happen to him so I could start over with a better experience. It was an AWFUL time in my life. I felt like a robot. After the second kid came along it was overwhelming and debilitating because I also developed agoraphobia and couldn’t go anywhere!

    I went for a screening on the National Depression Screening Day even though I didn’t think my problem was depression. We took a little test and I was referred to a couselor there who said it was most likely anxiety and she made me an appt to see a psychiatrist.

    My doctor prescribed Xanax and Paxil and within a few months I was feeling more normal. After about 2 years on the meds I weaned myself off, having moved away from this doctor and not having insurance to continue seeing someone. I got pregnant again and have the most wonderful birth(another c-section but not an emergency life or death situation). I’ve not had any problems since then and she’s 8.5 years now.

    Hang in there, it will get better, I promise!!!((((((hugs)))))))


    Irene October 3, 2008 at 12:14 am

    Good for you! Much peas to you too!

    Rachael October 3, 2008 at 1:06 am

    She sounds like a really nice woman. Good job on getting help – now go get some sleep!

    Mamalooper October 3, 2008 at 9:06 am

    P.S. there’s a HUGE reason why sleep deprivation is a great torture weapon. We aren’t meant to operate without enough rest…

    Mama V October 3, 2008 at 9:12 am

    Wishing you much peas and sleep…. ((((((HUGS))))))

    HeatherK October 3, 2008 at 10:05 am

    She sounds quirky, yet gentle. Everything you need to heal from this, you have within you. You are on the right track. Sleep, pea soup, some more sleep, love, family.

    Robyn - Chique*Plus October 3, 2008 at 10:29 am

    Your honesty about everything you are going through is a lifeline for other women. Don’t forget that.

    My first thought was that only a good mother would take the time and energy to seek help. So the remote possibility of being a bad mother is immediately dismissed.

    Sleep and heal. As your body gets stronger, so will your mind.

    starrlife October 3, 2008 at 11:20 am

    It takes alot of courage to do what you are doing! Especially if it’s so distasteful for you to do! Go for the peace, you deserve it.

    Vodka Mom October 3, 2008 at 11:26 am

    wow. That was some post. I can’t even be a smart-ass. It was both hard and a pleasure to read.

    you rock,

    Vicki October 3, 2008 at 12:00 pm

    Sending you peas and sheep to count. Lots of love and get much rest. Good luck dear.

    LAVANDULA October 3, 2008 at 1:07 pm

    catherine so glad you are getting help. and svetlana sounds wonderful..

    Shannon October 3, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    I’m also so glad you were able to get past the inital hesitation with Svetlana. Talking is good, taking time for yourself is wonderful. You are a good person, and have helped so many people by being honest about your feelings.

    I wish I had a “svetlana” to pat my hand and tell me everything will be ok.

    themommykelly October 3, 2008 at 1:45 pm

    Oh dear. I am so sorry for your difficulties. It seems as though you have found some wonderful help, however. Having someone understand and help find solutions is such a blessing!

    HeatherPride October 3, 2008 at 2:03 pm

    That just almost made me cry! I’m so sorry. You will get through this. Be open to therapy. I used to think it was for schmucks but then I went through counseling when I got divorced. It helped soooooo much, I can’t even begin to say.

    I am wishing you much peas.

    Candy October 3, 2008 at 3:08 pm

    OK Svetlana, who I was all set to hate, made me cry. Dammit! She’s a winner. You’re in good hands. Now go to bed.

    Mamajama October 3, 2008 at 3:25 pm

    Reading the doctor’s notes is what got me. So harsh. So clinical. Not compassionate enough. Hang in there!

    Her Bad Mother October 3, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    Reading the doctor’s notes almost made me get up and leave the room. but I’m glad that I stayed.

    Loralee Choate October 3, 2008 at 6:37 pm

    When you got to the part about reading the notes I MARVELED at your strength but you are just…amazing to me.

    I think the sleep thing alone would SEND ME. I thing getting that under control will make coping easier.

    Next to something going wrong lack of sleep is the single biggest fear I have about having a baby again.

    I love you, you wonderful, wonderful woman. All my good thoughts are sent your way.

    Mama Smurf October 3, 2008 at 7:37 pm

    zees post make me cry.

    You’ll get there girl. Sleep is as good a place to start as any.

    Michelle October 3, 2008 at 9:55 pm

    You ARE a good mother. A great mother. I’m glad you got some peas…er peace anyways.

    Christina October 3, 2008 at 11:33 pm

    I’ve been reading along, unsure of what to say only because it sounded cliche to say I’ve been there. But I have been there, and understand this so well.

    You are a good mother. You’re better than many considering how fast you decided to take action. And I think Svetlana has the right idea: sleep and peas. We could all use more of that, couldn’t we?

    Christy October 4, 2008 at 2:28 am

    Sleep and peas sound wonderful! I am with you on the exhaustion. My babe is just 4 months and not sleeping well. I also have a 5 and 7 year old who are my reminders that there is a light at the end. Hopefully soon :) Hang in there!

    Fairly Odd Mother October 4, 2008 at 7:45 am

    Sleep will do you good. I see brightness ahead. My youngest just turned 4 and I can assure you: there comes a day when they all sleep, and it seems miraculous and ordinary at the same time.

    AspenEm October 4, 2008 at 12:36 pm

    Peace has a way of changing the world … May sleep change yours! Positive vibes headed your way.

    Stefanie October 4, 2008 at 12:53 pm

    As a person, woman, mother on anxiety meds, I can tell you for shizzle that lack of sleep is what put me over the edge and near breakdown territory.

    My husband started taking some overnights with BOTH babies and I slept through the night for about a week. I was a completely different person.

    I don’t think that the dark thoughts come from a dark side of yourself, I believe they come from the taboo of thinking them. The mere fact that we’re so sure it’s wrong to want to hurt our baby is enought to make us think that when we’re insanely stressed and tired. And then we make it worse by feeling guilt over having those thoughts. It’s just your body’s way of making you seek help. Ativan is yummy.

    Kaza October 4, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    I wish I had been strong enough to see a shrink in my postpartum months. I white-knuckled it through and was miserable. I hope you get the “peas” you need from all of this. It’s a tremendous act of courage to get help with this, and very, very wise.

    Ernesta October 4, 2008 at 10:01 pm

    Now you need to stop reading all these wonderful comments from everyone and go back to bed to get some sleep and peas!!!

    Just Call Me Sleep Deprived October 4, 2008 at 11:04 pm

    My heart goes out to you! No one realizes how much lack of sleep really affects you, it really can push you over the edge. Good luck getting some real sleep and peas, I know there is a light at the end of the tunnel for you even though it may not feel like it! Hang in there:)

    Katrina October 4, 2008 at 11:37 pm

    Hang in there, chickadee, hang in there.

    Ruth Dynamite October 5, 2008 at 7:09 am

    Get zome zleep, dearie. Thinking of you.

    Mom101 October 5, 2008 at 10:59 am

    Sometime the universe sends you Svetlanas right when you need them. Ativan too.

    Peace, mama.

    Maggie, Dammit October 5, 2008 at 5:29 pm

    I love this. How did Svetlana know your blog name? ;)

    Sleep and peas, sweet dear.

    Amy @ Milk Breath and Margaritas October 6, 2008 at 5:32 pm

    Wishing you many peas.

    This was so sweet. I recently wrote a post called Depression is an Asshole. Maybe I need halp?!?

    Indigo Children October 8, 2008 at 7:56 pm

    Oh god.

    Thank you (really a lot) for your honesty.

    I wish you peace


    I am grateful

    that I found this post today…

    so many reasons why.

    There is nothing so vulnerable

    as sharing darkness (with the unknown).

    You can’t know the unintended results of your honesty.

    Haley-O October 9, 2008 at 4:24 pm

    Suddenly, I have an overwhelming craving for pea soup….!

    Erin, Nick and Merrick October 17, 2008 at 10:26 am

    You are very brave!
    I have had that flash of anger- very scary.
    I wish you all the best.

    Booba Juice November 12, 2008 at 7:10 am

    Your peas have meant so much to me, I had to use them in my latest post.

    Here is hoping that we both get the peas that we need.


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