I spent several months promoting my television show, “The Heart of Beauty”. It was a hectic and emotional time. The show received high praise yet continued to be rejected by networks. I persevered for Christine and her family to have a chance to tell their story to the world. I kept going for every person who had been through a life-altering event and managed to keep their families as well as their sanity in tact, including myself.
Christine’s son Mikey turned five years old a month after we filmed the sizzle reel. Bobby, Miss J and I attended Mikey’s fifth birthday party. Several parents at his party had children with Autism. None of them had seen the tape, but they had all heard about it. I was overwhelmed by how many people expressed their gratitude to me for wanting to bring the true story of what the life of a family living with an Autistic child was like, especially since my child and my family had not been personally affected by this issue. Autism is a silent epidemic in this country, affecting 1 in 50 children. Christine’s friends shared with me with how much their lives changed after hearing their child’s diagnosis. By the time most of their kids reached two or three years old, birthday party invites decreased, as did invitations to summer bbq’s and play dates with friends who were not on the spectrum. One couple lost touch with friends they had for decades. I could relate to them. Having a postpartum hemorrhage and PTSD was very isolating for me in the beginning. I would be lying to you if I said that all of my friendships have remained the same during the last four years. Some friends have cheered me on publicly since the beginning of this journey, some privately and some I haven’t heard from since Miss J was born.Very few people who I would have described as my close friends before Miss J was born have stood by my side as I have told my birth trauma and PTSD story to the world. Not only did becoming a mom change the dynamic of many of my friendships- but being a mom who is willing to expose the not so perfect aspects of parenthood has had some negative impact on my life.
Many people have called me a brave survivor and a pioneer in educating the public about PTSD and mothers. There are others who question and ridicule my decision to have made my story public. Some family members seemed reluctant to acknowledge and validate what I went through until my story was published in the Huffington post a few months ago.
The more I told Christine’s story, the more I realized I had to work on healing myself. I began writing about the day I gave birth. My journal was a safe place to vent privately, yet there was always a voice in the back of my head telling me that it was just beginning.
I had so much more to do.
Sometimes it was exhausting and frustrating. There were many times I wanted to stop promoting the show and stop writing my story, but it was impossible. The words ran through my head all day and all night. I used any free moment I had to write. It was a release and provided me with some relief. Since sleeping had been an issue for two years at that point, I often found myself typing away on my laptop into the wee hours of the morning.
I met my new therapist, Rachael, in May of 2012. We had an instant connection but I was cautiously optimistic. I hoped that I had made a good choice this time. I would have given up on therapy altogether if I had chosen another terrible therapist.
Because everything had been so out of my control after Miss J’s birth, I told Rachael that it was important for me to feel in control of how the treatment was going to go. I didn’t want to talk about anything but the surgery and the television show. I didn’t want to be asked a lot of questions. If she allowed me to, I was willing to tell her everything. Rachael was very supportive and respected my position. I think she could also tell that I like to talk a lot and knew that she wouldn’t have a problem getting me to open up and reveal myself to her.
I remember looking around her office at one point and noticing that there were no degrees on display. While I was talking, she never picked up a pad of paper or a pen. She barely looked at her clock. She was engrossed in my story, fully absorbing every word. Within a few minutes I noticed that her eyes began to water. Her show of emotion was refreshing and it also took me by surprise. It was the first time one of my personal healthcare professionals had allowed themselves to express real emotion around me and not hide behind the stoic face they have been taught to put on every day for the sake of their patients.
It didn’t matter to me where she went to school or how many degrees she had earned.
She was human, and not afraid to show it.