The last few years have been a struggle. Beginning with my husband deploying to Bahrain in 2008, immediately followed by my mother being diagnosed with a fatal cancer, my life became dictated by the mundane task of surviving, feeding myself, our daughter, and my mother, taking care of the most basic things, and just treading water emotionally. This process continued with a second deployment the following year and a last minute decision to conceive our now 16 month old before we were forced to wait almost a year to try again. It was during that second deployment and that lonely pregnancy that my toddler, Jetta, and I became part of a family bedside, care giving team during the last months of our mother's life. When dementia set in we sought professional help and admitted her to a facility, but the pros and cons of that kind of environment left us feeling less than confident, and our bedside vigil as her advocate far preceded the last two weeks of her final decline.
In the Autumn of 2009, our mother released from her struggle and body, and we all worked slowly to redirect our lives. Two weeks later my husband returned from his deployment, and we began the slow rebuilding of our family while awaiting the new addition. In December of 2009, our littlest one, Jade, an amazing magical child, graced us with her birth.
Since then, the outer landscape of my life has improved dramatically while the landscape of my internal process has declined. Post-partum depression has been a lingering issue, not surprisingly since my system was depleted during the years of stress and care giving before. The most useful information I've found on this came initially from a couple of books by Julia Ross (The Diet Cure and The Mood Cure). As I remained committed to breastfeeding Jade, I also remained confident that prescription drugs were not the answer, and they remain so. Unfortunately, much of the amino acid therapies suggested in these books were questionable while breastfeeding. While it might have been okay for another baby, Jade is especially sensitive to any form of stimulant and some of the amino acids (and the chocolate I CRAVE!) that are suggested just over-stimulated her. So I have waited, patiently, relying solely on better nutrition, enzyme rich fermented foods (see http://www.bodyecologydiet.com/) and a very healthy dose of fish oil. As Jade has graduated into toddlerhood, the option of weaning has hovered, but I still see that she needs me. I have pushed the issue to the side. Put my needs on the waiting list again. And continue to tread water emotionally.
Another book, A Natural Guide to Pregnancy and Postpartum Health, confirmed everything I knew was happening. Depletion of nutrients, essential fatty acids, and specific amino acids lay the groundwork for a predisposition to postpartum depression. High levels of stress further deplete those nutrients and it seems pretty obvious how I arrived at this state.
At 16 months, Jade is toddling around, climbing everything, discovering language, and learning body parts. My emotions seem to be a secondary priority to what she needs, so I have continued to breastfeed. Admittedly, the process of weaning is a deterrent; who wants to go through however long it is that a baby will cry for her mother's milk, even if she is a walking, talking toddler! But recently, a painful foot injury has created a demand on my body. What appears to have begun as plantar fasciitis, inflammation of the tendon that runs along the bottom of the heel, has also resulted in a heel spur. For a couple of weeks, I haven't been able to walk without pain. My limp improves as the day goes on, only to worsen in the hours before bedtime. Being barefoot improves it, ice helps, but again, the natural remedies I would prefer to use as anti-inflammatories may produce a certain detoxification in my system that I don't want to share with Jade (see ginger, turmeric, as examples).
My body is literally putting it's foot down. The length of time that I can go without taking care of my own needs has come to an end. If I can't walk without pain for any length of time, how can I care for my girls? It is an obvious choice, a true necessity now from my perspective. I have to heal my body in order to be what Jetta and Jade need.
So many of us, both men and women, carry on in our day to day lives ignoring the cries of our bodies. Whether emotional or physical, mental or spiritual, the body is a vessel through which we can achieve relatively quick results through nutritional, herbal, and energetic manipulation. The body responds easily, though the seeming subtlety may give cause to believe that nothing is growing under the soil.
It is time now for me to put myself on the front burner and tend to my own needs. My heel spur has become a heal spur, a message from my soul that it is time to get back to me, time to get back to the things I know are right. Time to move, time to feel, time to release what is stagnant. Time to heal. The pain spurs me on. And I embrace what is to come.