The Things I Carry
I’ve thought a lot about what I carry with me since my battle with postpartum mental illness. My journey was long and my symptoms ranged from detachment to suicidality to crippling anxiety to insomnia to hallucinations and beyond. It was a terrifying time for me and my family. There wasn’t one magic pill or self-care trick or one person that saved me. It was a combination of medications, PSVa support groups, therapy, coloring, music, and support and love from my husband, family and friends. While I wish things had been different, I know that because of this experience I am a better version of myself. And because I am a survivor, I carry with me light and love and so much more.
When I was lost, I found myself in the middle of a tribe. Men and women who lifted me up. Who shared pieces of themselves with me. Who cared for me when I couldn’t care for myself. I carry them in my heart with gratitude and pure love.
When I was spiraling and drowning, I found myself in countless doctor’s offices. I learned to advocate for myself. To fight for better care. To speak up despite my fears. I carry with me the knowledge that when I want and need to be heard, I *can* speak up.
When I was so scared of the darkness that I nearly lost myself to it forever, I learned that light is sometimes a flicker. I carry that flicker with me, knowing that someday it will blaze.
When my mind raced with jumbled anxiety, I taught myself comfort. I carry with me skills to calm my mind and heart.
When insecurity overtook my thoughts and made me believe I was unworthy, I learned to accept myself as I am. I carry with me awareness that I am kind and loving and capable and strong.
When I feared I no longer had a future, I learned to break my dreams into bite-sized goals I could accomplish immediately. I carry with me celebrations of random and silly dreams I made come true. And when I look back, I see those were in fact big dreams.
When I cried and was scared and broken and at my loneliest and darkest, I was reminded that my husband loves me in ways I could never articulate. I carry with me his unwavering love and am whole because of it.
When Death made itself comfortable within me, I learned how brave I am. I carry that strength with me, knowing that whatever comes next, I am battle-tested, armed, and surrounded by people who will fight with me.
I carry with me scars and triggers and nightmares. But I am no longer afraid. I am changed, but I am better than I’ve ever been.
~ Priscilla Briones