Have you ever felt trapped within your own body? Wish you could peel your skin off, or extract your soul from your flesh and flee. That’s impossible though, right? But that’s how I felt… a lot of the time… for the past two years.
I deal with depression, if anything my family suffers from it. I hate(ed) talking to people about my mental illness because it makes me feel less than. I often joke with my day 1’s and say “It would be easier if I had a limp, a glass eye, missing appendage or something.” People can’t just look at me and tell I have a problem. Most times you try to explain it and in return I’m met with a list of reasons why I shouldn’t feel that way. I know I shouldn’t feel this way, but that’s the point and the problem… I do.
The past few years have been hectic to say the least. At the end of 2015, I told my husband I wanted a divorce. That was one of the most difficult things I’ve done in my life. To hurt the one I supposedly love to his very core. To say the things that I said. To do the things that I did. I had family and friends over during the holidays, and even though our relationship was crumbling at its very foundation, we had to put up a front like everything was all good; and we were good at it. So so good at it, in fact, that we continued the trend, it became our norm, to pretend that everything was all good… And then I found out I was pregnant, on New Years Eve.
My whole year started on some other shit. I was supposed to be happy, because a baby is exactly what we once wanted, but I felt like a foreigner in my own body… to my whole life. I didn’t want a husband… kids… none of that. I just wanted to bury myself in my miserable ass feelings in a dark corner of the world and die. We tired for almost a year after I found out I had hyperthyroidism and nothing. I figured I couldn’t get pregnant, so when I stated my exit, I thought I was in the clear. Then I opened the door towards my so called escape, and boom, there’s a baby. I was shocked and knocked over by a whole new wave of mixed emotions.
I had started a job that September who continually promised they would hire myself and the team I worked with as permanent employees. The incentives were great. So I trudged along with my favorite plastic smile throughout the days and weeks into the new year, until one day… I started bleeding. In a panic I ran to, none other than, my husband. The same one I said I didn’t want anymore. He threw on his cape and flew me to the nearest hospital. You see, even through my emotional assault, my husband never once left my side.
A few weeks later, just before valentines day and our coined “valen-versary”, the day I was expecting to get my formal proposal from work, the day I moved into my new office space equip with three 22″ monitors, personal printer, and and all of the stationary that I was told to order myself, I was let go. Jobless, with a child at home, still contemplating how to make it on my own (since I wanted to leave and all), and another baby on the way. As I sat in my car sobbing, I received a phone call. The doctor explained to me that my levels had come back in unusually low and they were afraid that I’d lost the baby. They wanted me to com in for a sonogram to confirm my unborn child’s demise.
The days leading up to the appointment was hell. I hated my husband at that point. I hated that I had to get up in the morning and take him to work at 5 am. I wished he would just fucking walk! I hated that he came home for lunch. I hated that I had to pick him up afterwards. I hated that he looked at me. I hated that he held me before we went to sleep. I hated that he got me pregnant. I hated that I gave up the goods. I hated that I had to take my daughter to school. Hated that I had to smile when I picked her up. I felt like shit, and looked like it too. I refused to do homework with her. I didn’t want to see or sign anything. The only place I felt somewhat content was in my room, in my bed, and under the covers.
The appointment shook things up. No my baby wasn’t dead. He was in there bouncing around like pop corn. It was the first time in months I’d felt truly happy. I didn’t kill the kid with my unhappiness. Going forward things got a little better. I found another temporary job at damn near 6 months pregnant. With the help of some of my closest friends, I was able to go home to New York and have my baby shower. Being surrounded by family did wonders for my depression. In Atlanta, I don’t have very many friends, or family that I know. My husband’s family isn’t as close knit as mine, and it left me longing for that kind of “togetherness”.
Once we returned home, we were faced with moving or staying in our present home. We could have stayed, but the bills were going to be an issue with our new work situation. The contract with my job was up 2 weeks before my due date. My in laws offered for us to move in with them so that they could “help”. Against my better judgement, we agreed, packed our crap, and moved back in with mom and dad.
September 3, 2016, my son was born. My husband was an excellent father, and I was dying on the inside. My husband wanted my time. My son demanded my time, especially since I was breastfeeding. My daughter needed my time, especially since school had just started. I hadn’t done laundry in a month, I hadn’t showered in a week, my room looked like a violent robbery scene, and I had just enough energy to pop a titty in my nursling’s mouth and pass the hell out.
Then complaining started… So I tried to be an every woman, cooking, cleaning, schooling, nursing, helping, and everything else. I felt like it wasn’t good enough. But everyone on the outside looking in said they were so proud. I was stressed because doctors said my son was a “skinny” baby. I obsessed about his weight. Nursing, and pumping, and nursing and pumping, and failing… at this and everything else.
Two months later, my husband left me. He had decided to go back into the military and dragged his feet with the process for well over a year. He told me he was leaving 2 weeks before the date. He was to ship out on Valentine’s day. This holiday was beginning to become a bad holiday for me. I was affectionate out of instinct and sorrow. I realize now, that back then, I was just pushing all of my doubts, fears, and hurts, onto my husband. I honestly thought that leaving him would fix everything, but while he was gone I almost didn’t make it.
The violent sobbing sessions followed shortly after his departure. I was useless as a mother to my daughter. My son, who I looked at as a leach during that time, was my only comfort, and my greatest stress. I resented him for being so demanding and active, but his little smile melted my heart every time he looked at me looking everything like his father.
When my husband returned home from training I couldn’t have been more grateful. You know how they say that distance makes the heart grow fonder? Well, It made me see, with clear vision, that I am blessed to have someone who loves me the way he does. I’ve never loved my children and my husband more…
I know that’s a lot of personal information, and most people will wonder why I’m sharing such intimate details of my personal life. Well… It’s because I can. I’m not saying that I’m better, or I’m normal now, whatever normal means. What I’m saying is that all of these things continue to build me into the person that I am today. Not for nothing, I’m proud of me. I’m proud that I didn’t drive off of 285 during rush hour. I’m proud that I didn’t slit my wrists. I’m proud that I didn’t down that bottle of pills, or jump into the deep end of the pool while walking by. I’m proud because my mind goes there often, and I make a choice to keep on living. Some day’s I do it because it’s the right thing to do; others, because I want to. My only goal is to keep on having days that I want to live.
Today I am thankful to be me, flaws and all. Y’all have no idea how I see myself. I look in the mirror and I don’t see pretty, I see a used to be; used to be a dancer, used to be pretty, used to be talented, used to be outgoing. The things I share on social media take a lot for me to want to post. I feel like I look stupid. In no way shape or form have I or will I ever “stunt” for social media but when I am pregnant I struggle with depression, and the past few months have been especially hard for me as well.
I’ve been told all my life that I am strong, and I try so hard not to waver from that image even when I feel like I’m crumbling on the inside. It’s hard, especially when most of my family is in New York or Texas, and every single one of my closest circle of friends lives in a different state. Too often I isolate myself, which is easy to do being a stay at home mom.
But it has been revealed to me, time and time again how me being me has touched the lives of others. Women (friends, family and strangers) have told me that they reclaimed their dreams and started pursuing them again after I published my 2 short stories because I made them believe it was possible. Then there are others who have jumped back into their love of dance because of how hard I went last summer. There are those who constantly comment and compliment how I style my daughters hair and how well behaved my children are.
I’m always shocked, because I see myself as a failure (as a mother, as a wife, as a writer, as a dancer…) even though there are so many that view me as an inspiration. That right there is the energy that gives me the strength to pick some of those Wakandan heart shaped flowers and fight for my life. Literally.
I love being me, even though I think it’s hard being me, but even my daughter told me yesterday that she’s glad I’m her mama because “nobody else loves like you do. It’s not all sugary and high pitched. You don’t pretend with me and I’m glad you always tell it like it is. A lot of grown ups lie to make you feel better and I hate that. You don’t lie to me.” She doesn’t say shit like that often but that was a wonderful boost in my confidence along with the tribute paid to me this morning by a friend.
It’s crazy when the people you look up to also look up to you. I must be doing something right, even though it feels all wrong. I am perfectly imperfect, and thankful to be me, regardless of my personal struggles. I am life, I am love, I am Chantel TeLLiey* Reneé (Williamson) Platt. All’a’dat and a bag of cheddar & sour cream chips, with a Coca Cola on the side. At least that’s what I tell myself to get out of bed in the morning.