Friday

Declaring One's Self an Unfit Mother

It happened suddenly without notice. I was on the phone talking to my grandmother and then I began breathing heavily. I was struggling to stand, feeling faint I mumbled something to her over the phone, then I hung up. I dialed my fiance's phone number slowly -- it seemed like it took forever and then I realized I couldn't speak, I gave the phone to my two year old who was standing there observing my desposition. He told his daddy, "Mommy needs to go to sleep." He repeated again, "Mommy go to sleep." At this point I managed to climb over my toddler's security fencing fearing I might fall down and bump my head on a wooden desk that sat nearby. I took baby steps to the bedroom and collapsed on the bed. I still had enough strength to roll over on my back and that's when the seizures began. I was coherent. I knew that my body was shaking and I heard the little footsteps run into my bedroom, "Stop shaking mommy -- stop it!" My toddler jumped on the bed, patting me on my chest with his little brown hands, with tears in his eyes, he cried, "Stop it." He rubbed my chest, "It will be okay mommy." He jumped off the bed, ran into the living room, and I heard him screaming in the phone, "Daddy, Daaadddy!" He sobbed. He ran back into my bedroom. He looked at me. He was crying, but he somehow got himself together and when my seizures began to calm, he laid his head on my chest.

Meanwhile, his brother was sound asleep in the next bedroom. He never knew what was happening. The seizures started up again. My toddler runs out of the bedroom and into the living room. I hear the front door. His dad's footsteps come down the hall into the bedroom, he has my medicine in his hand. The seizures were violent moving me to and fro on the bed and I felt my eyes big and wide. Then there was another moment of calm. I was staring at his dad. He manages to hold me up and put a pill in my mouth. I swallow. Less than 20 minutes later the pills take effect and I am talking as if nothing ever happened.

I learned later that I had a panic anxiety disorder also known as a nervous breakdown. I remember prior to the seizures feeling stressed. I was in the process of sorting some things out in my personal and professional life. The day that I chose to talk to my grandmother was the day that I had let go of some things. I had a personal breakthrough, but I guess in order to get from there (being stressed) to here (finding peace) I had to go through a process.

This was the second attack of its kind and it reinforced a hidden secret I had about my self, I was an unfit mother. I couldn't be trusted at home with the children. I had seen different doctors and they all said that my test results were normal. I had prayed with believers and even they said, "Everything would be fine, just trust in the Lord." All of this was nice to hear, but my fiance and I knew the truth, everything wasn't fine and the reality was that something was setting the attacks off and neither I or the doctors knew.

However, there was an antidepressant that I was taking at the time and of course the doctor who prescribed it was quick to defend it, but after conducting research of my own, I learned that other mothers who had been prescribed the same drug for postpartum blues had similar side effects. The drug was Paxil. For some mothers, they boasted on the effects of this "miracle drug." But for others, the results weren't so positive. Some complained of everything from an increase in weight gain to an increase in depression. When I reflected on my various bodily and mental changes while on this drug, I found that it started out helping me, like the other I took in the past, but then gradually became my own worst enemy.

This was supposed to be the solution to another drug I had been on which was Lexapro. I had learned that doctors will switch from drug to drug until something works. So while they were trying to figure out what my issues were, I was a mother at home with two little ones and I was expected to be a "fit" mother at all times. Well that gradually became more and more of a challenge for me, so much in fact that I suspected my sons' father was formulating his own opinions in his head about me. "I don't know if I can trust her with our children." Understandably so, that was why I had to reach a conscience decision to allow the professional childcare agencies to take care of them or a relative. I knew that I couldn't continue to be at home with them by myself for over 10 hours a day, five days a week. I had reached the end of my stay-at-home mother routine.

So I tell this story not to gain sympathy, but I tell it so that one can have the boldness and courage, who may be in a similar situation, to declare one's self an unfit mother. Oh yes being an unfit mother has negative connotations and we often think of drug and child abusers, but anytime you can't take care of your children for a limited time or for a lifetime the court, society, even your relatives and friends will deem you unfit. Of course, there are nicer ways of putting it, "unable to care for, not well, disabled, handicapped..." whatever you choose to describe your situation is up to you. But the bottom line is don't wait for someone else to make that declaration for you like the police, child enforcement authorities, a judge, your ex-husband, etc. If you can't take care of the children, you just can't! It's better to trust someone else who you know is more mentally capable to handle them until you can get the help you need. I think of all the women who were so far gone mentally that they couldn't or wouldn't ask for help. Then one day they suddenly snapped and that's when they and society started screaming, "Help!" often when it's too late.

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Over 20 years office work experience, six years completed college coursework, background in print media and communications, recognized for exceptional attendance and received merit increase for past job performance, self-published author and part-time entrepreneur, Internet marketing and social media experience. Interned for non-profit organization, women's group and community service business. Additional experience: teaching/training others, customer service and sales. Learn more at Nicholl McGuire and Nicholl McGuire Media

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