I have a wonderful life. My husband is one of the kindest men you will meet and he happens to be very successful in his career. I have two kids with more charm in their pinkies than I could ever possess. Friends and family that love me and over the past few months I have received support from strangers around the world. I’m aware that my life is good. I’m also aware that my life looks even shinier from the outside.
I’ve never been afraid of being honest and real with the people around me. I will tell you about the days that parenting is so hard I want to leave my child on the side of the road. I will talk about the baby blues, postpartum depression, and just how hard breastfeeding can be. It doesn’t bother me to tell you that my weight and BMI are “too high” and I am considered overweight in the medical community. I often leave the house with a naked face and in my workout clothes. I’ve even talked about shitting in a bed pan. I’m not one to shy away from the things that are not so pretty. I don’t believe that we should only post the happy. I also don’t believe in harping on the bad. It’s a balance that I try to live my life by. And yet…
There are things the hide beneath the surface. Things that you would not guess when I post a smiling photo to Instagram or share a funny story about my kids on a Facebook status. Things like I lost my hair for about two months after I got out of the hospital. Mom friends, think postpartum hair loss but worse. Symptoms like night sweats and switching from hot to cold in an instant. If I was not only 32 years old I would think I was in menopause. Issues like the days I am so tired that I get dizzy and light-headed and it’s almost unsafe for me to drive. Stuff like the fact that I suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Surprised? Yeah, me too.
The thing is, it’s not really surprising at all. Psychologists have found a correlation between ARDS and PTSD, especially when mechanical ventilation is necessary. I am very lucky that mine is quite mild. I have had only a handful of nightmares. Mine mainly presents itself in an all-encompassing fear of getting sick again. I never used to be the person to run to the doctor. In fact, this the reason I got so sick. I kept telling myself it was just the flu, it would go away. I was also not the parent to run my kids to the doctors all the time. I believed in letting fevers do their work. Now every time I get a stomach ache I wonder if my colitis is going to come back. If I cough I worry that my lungs are filling with fluid. When you have experienced the feeling of suffocating from within it leaves you scarred. I’m terrified of this winter with the cold and flu season. I may just quarantine myself. The problem is, when the worst happens to you, it shatters your idea that you are safe. And friends, please don’t ever try to put a mask on my face because I might instinctively punch you. I just can’t with masks right now. I got a card in the mail that it was time for my yearly gynaecology appointment. I called my former practice and while I was on hold I nearly had a panic attack. It was then I decided that my wounds run too deep to return to them.
I write this post not to ask for sympathy. I write it to remind you that everyone is carrying a load. One of my most beautiful friends is 32 years old and on daily dialysis, waiting for a kidney transplant. My mom and brother live with chronic pain. Another gorgeous young mother I know has lupus and has days where she fights with all her might to function normally. You do not know if that grouchy cashier has just found out her mother was diagnosed with cancer. We do not know if that terrible driver is a doctor who just lost a patient on their table. Or the mom with tantruming toddler just found out her husband lost his job, or is cheating on her, or has been deployed for the past 6 months. We just never know what hard things a person is doing or dealing with each and every day. So let us try to treat each other with compassion and kindness. Let us try to give each other the benefit of the doubt more often than not. We all deserve to live in a world like that.