It has been a wild last few months. Learning how to be a mom to four kids is hard. Having a baby when you do not feel well is even more difficult. I was battling postpartum anxiety as well throughout the year, which I learned more recently is a direct link to reactivation of your chronic Epstein Barr virus, so I wasn’t as crazy as I thought I was ( only maybe half crazy)! I haven’t written for the blog since may, in may I thought I had finally had a flow back with life with four kids, managing my postpartum anxiety and getting back to myself. I was very wrong and all the momentum I had started to have in writing, starting a new business and keep the house in order a started to crash around me, I felt like my life was spiraling out of control, I was depressed, anxious my baby was going to die every four seconds and beyond overwhelmed.
The Back Story…
If you have been around for a while, you know I have been facing health issues since I was about fifteen years old. After years of mysterious illness and hospital stays, I found an integrative doctor in Connecticut who diagnosed me with chronic Epstein Barr virus and chronic Lyme disease. I started treating naturally, working out, eating clean and feeling better, and started this blog to help others who were battling Lyme and other chronic illnesses like me and my family had been battling for years. I was finally in a place where I felt like I had a purpose, I was helping people and feeling great, I had met an amazing man who took care of me and was supporting me through a rough divorce but we were happy, life was good …then I got pregnant after an eight-year break from having babies , I was starting all over again with three big kids. I was excited and scared but none the less we welcomed a beautiful baby girl Maci into the world in September, it wasn’t easy and she spent some time in the NICU. She was colicky and screamed all day and night, she never slept and the first few months I was barely holding on.
How could I help people if I couldn’t even help myself?
Beginning in late November, additional symptoms outside of my “norm” began to pop up here and there. I was having a lot more headaches, moments of nausea, dizzy spells and just generally not feeling well. I attributed this to the Lyme flaring up because I wasn’t sleeping enough, but just kept pushing through. Fast forward to February and I was feeling significantly worse. My headaches were constant, I had a lot of head pressure and face pain, I was weak and exhausted, felt dizzy almost constantly, and had moments where I felt I might pass out. So I went to see my primary and found out my EBV had reactivated and so did my Lyme, she did nothing and sent me for an MRI of my brain to make sure I didn’t have MS. I never went for the test, I found every reason not to, no babysitters, what if I was really sick and died the same way my grandfather did …from MS, who would take care of my children? The though crippled me for months and broke my normal super mom skills in half and made my postpartum anxiety even worse…so I ignored it and told myself I had it under control.
Fast Foward to May when I stopped writing…
I started hating being a stay at home mom, I felt like I had lost my purpose in the career world I had lost my passion to write for the blog, I couldn’t figure my own brain fog out how the hell was I suppose to give advice? I didn’t contribute to the house and was stuck mentally, I felt like I was failing at everything. I couldn’t keep the house clean, I couldn’t put the baby down, she didn’t nap and didn’t sleep at night. My husband suggested therapy, “No I’m fine, I know I have postpartum, I’ve been through it before, I just need to get her on a sleep routine and enjoy summer with the big kids”.
Now here is the interesting thing: I starting shifting from a place of “Poor me, I hate my new life. I want to run and hide”, to … “What the fuck? This world is so crazy and I brought a sweet young soul into it. Why would I do such a thing? The world has too many people already and we are all so fucked up and none of this makes sense. Everywhere I look there is war and hatred.” I needed a break I was burnt out and I was afraid to leave her with anyone, I was afraid she would die every five seconds.
Then the scary thoughts started coming on pretty strong. The ones that at the time I wouldn’t dream of telling anyone. The ones that still make me feel sick to my stomach. I will tell you, these thoughts were rarely about me and always about Maci.
What if I leave to go to dinner with a friend and he forgets to buckle her into the highchair and she falls on the tile floor and cracks her head open, and she bleeds out everywhere, her brains scattered on the tile floor was the permanent image I would have in my head.I would back out of dinner with that friend and tell my husband an excuse to not take the break I so desperately needed, it wasn’t him, it was me.
So I dived into a new business in June, at the same time as my husband got hurt at work and was home on worker comp, summer had started and all three big kids were home from school. I had these grand plans but little did I know I was burning out my body and causing my flare to get worse. I started spending till 4 am working on the new business and found myself not having any time to write, and what would I even write about? I was failing at being a mother, failing at trying to run this new business and getting no sleep on top of pushing my husband away more and more and ultimately making him depressed and miserable.
When I finally decided to help myself…
The summer has come and gone, while we enjoyed many playdates and day trips it also was the hardest three months of my life. I finally headed to the doctors to get back on my prescription ADHD medicine thinking my extreme brain fog was just getting worse and once I got back to my normal self with the help of my Adderall I would be able to get everything in our house back in order. All while spiking 103 fevers and hiding it from my husband, passing out in stores and having panic attacks to the point I couldn’t drive. I was drinking wine every night for anxiety and was flaring my body up more, I felt like I was losing control of my life and my purpose. The doctor said to me, “Did you ever treat this EBV reactivation from your blood work back in November when you had the headaches? or your Lyme when was the last time you had any testing on that?”
I was started on Valtrex and urged to start taking my supplements for my EBV as well as do a round of Lyme antibiotics and get back on my probiotics!
I had a long hard talk with my husband and finally admitted I needed help and that my hormones where still everywhere a year later from having a baby. We decided to both get back to taking care of ourselves, doing 30 days without alcohol, eating clean.
I’m also doing some self-help work to put myself in a more positive state and just started reading this amazing book
I decided to finally just be open about the fact that for the last four months my chronic illness took advantage of my weak hormonal body that just had a baby a year ago and that I’m fighting like hell to get my blog back to a place where I write at least once a week.
The link between Post Partum and Epstein Barr Virus I was missing
EBV will also often act when you’re undergoing a major hormonal change—for example, during puberty, pregnancy, or menopause. A common scenario is when a woman goes through childbirth. Afterward, you may feel various symptoms, including fatigue, aches and pains, and depression. In this case, EBV isn’t exploiting your weakness, but the fact that hormones are a powerful food source for it—their abundance acts as a trigger. The hormones flooding through your body effectively does for the virus what spinach does for Popeye. The virus bides its time until it senses stress-related hormones indicating you’re in an especially vulnerable state—say, as a result of burning the candle at both ends, enduring a severe emotional blow, or suffering a physical jolt such as being in a car accident—or when it senses you’re undergoing hormonal upheavals, such as during pregnancy or menopause.
The virus builds up and floods your brain causing, extreme fatigue, dizziness, fevers, extreme thoughts, and depression.
Learning to take care of myself …
I have a long road ahead of me, I am back to taking my EBV supplements, you can view them here and I working on getting a break a couple days a week to help with my anxiety that was brought on by my EBV Flare and hormonal change. I promise to continue to write more frequently and talk more about this silent disease over the upcoming year. As always thank you for being patient with me and stay tuned for all of the awesome info that will be shared on the blog this month!
To My Husband, Thank you for standing by me through the hardest year I have ever faced, thank you for not leaving no matter how much I pushed you away. I don’t always give you the credit you deserve or tell you just how much of an amazing father you are. I forget how fast you went from one child to four almost overnight and no matter how tough things got you never walked away. Loving someone with a chronic illness is not easy and I thank you for loving me and helping me but most of all for pushing me to never give up.
Love your wife