The Quiet Resurgence of Trauma

Photo by Drew Beamer | Unsplash

I’ve been thinking of, writing for, and working on this blog for years. Literal years.

I have felt the persistent oftentimes nagging urge to write about maternal mental health for years now. It started as a necessity to help me through a time rife with panic attacks. I would sometimes even write through an actual panic attack, writing over and over again how scared I was and also telling myself that it would be okay. Sometimes this would happen when I was at home alone with my sleeping first born. Instinctively what I wanted to do was get outside and run. When I’d had one-off panic attacks in the past, that’s what I had done. Once when I was living in Hong Kong, it happened in the middle of the night. I felt like I was being swallowed up by the walls of my tiny studio apartment. I wanted to scream for help, but, I didn’t know to whom. So I went outside, at 3am, and ran down to the harbor.

For me, the frantic burst of energy that fuels a panic attack has to be distilled. It has to be transformed somehow. It is unbearable otherwise. With a sleeping child at home, running it off wasn’t an option. I tried washing it off in the shower once, but only ended up feeling claustrophobic, which worsened how I felt as the shower was large and all glass, nothing that should logically feel confining.

So I turned to the page, asking it to hold my fears. It always worked. It was as if there was a transfer of energy from myself to the words I was writing. They absorbed and alleviated some of my panic. An alchemy was taking place.

At a certain point, it occurred to me that I wanted to share what I was writing about. I started trepidatiously: a little post on social media, a guest piece on someone else’s website. It felt good and important to be a part of the conversation. I started writing a book. As a daughter of mental illness and as a mother who experienced postpartum depression, I felt I was meant to be a part of the mental health space.

In February 2020, I discovered that I was pregnant again. My husband, son, and I were all absolutely elated, if a little shocked. We hadn’t planned it. Ryker was nearly six years old already. We had basically accepted that we would be an only child family.

Almost instantly, I was inspired to write even more. I thought: I am going to blog about my pregnancy! Not just about nausea and maternity clothes but about the ongoing state of my mental health. I would openly talk about any fears and worries, apply my insight from my past experience, note any hopeful differences… things that really mattered.

The words poured out of me. Ryker was in Kindergarten - finally, a full day of school. I would drop him off, race home, and write until the very last minute when I had to hop back on the subway to pick him up. I collected piece after piece after piece. I surveyed possible domain names with a few friends.

In March 2020, our world as we knew it ended. Our school was one of the first in the country to close down. Nobody knew what was going to stay open. “Essential businesses” was not yet part of our vernacular. I frantically bought - and bleached - groceries, took a trip to the Lego store to stock up so Ryker could have something fun to do at home, failed to find Purell anywhere, and became consumed with understanding and avoiding Coronavirus. I geared up for what would be one of the hardest chapters of parenting. Harder than sleep training, potty training, or getting your kid to put their shoes on the first time you ask them: Remote Learning.

It goes without saying that every human being has been affected by the pandemic. My mantra through it all has been one of humble gratitude, for every day that my loved ones have been fortunate enough to stay healthy and for the essential workers that continue to take care of us all. I just wanted everyone to stay safe and I prayed that the experts could get us out of this. This has been my mindset over the past two years.

But boy. Remote Learning is the worst. Being a Kindergartener, Ryker needed my help in every single part of his school “day,” which, with its constant 30 minute screen breaks only amounted to a couple hours of actual school time. We slogged through the days, me trying to make things fun with an array of at-home activities, Ryker becoming progressively more bored and anxious. Summer soon came around which was somehow even worse than Remote Learning because there was nothing to break up the day for even a few hours.

All the while, I was getting more and more pregnant.

I did manage to write a few pieces here and there, but they were not pieces for my website. I couldn’t access the depths of my mental and emotional self when there was so much swirling around in front of my eyes. I couldn’t even think of finding the time and headspace I needed to reflect; I just wanted to get through the birth without any of us getting Covid.

In October 2020, our baby girl Avy was born. In the same week, Ryker’s school reopened for two in-person days a week. A few weeks later, we started looking for a new apartment. There was a lot to adjust to and I legitimately could not find time to write, though as I emerged from the newborn haze, I did find myself thinking about the website again. I took quiet moments where I could, in all their unpromised and inconsistent glory.

By the Fall of 2021, I had reopened my document entitled “Blog” and revisited my essays. I met with a brilliant and skilled friend who got the site up and running as we sat outdoors at a cafe, Avy happily watching on from her stroller. I told my friend that I was going to launch on Avy’s first birthday. I hadn’t yet announced her birth so the timing would be perfect. It all felt pretty poetic.

A few days before her 1st birthday, we rushed Avy to the ER at the same hospital where she was born. Blood was all over her face, our clothes, and my hands. We hadn’t been able to get the bleeding to stop even after applying pressure like her doctor had instructed us to for over an hour.

This tiny dot had appeared on her cheek a few weeks prior and had steadily been growing. I instantly felt it was something weird and worrisome. But everyone I asked - fellow parents and doctors - all thought nothing of it. Babies often have skin anomalies that are benign and eventually resolve on their own. Nobody thought it looked suspicious and besides, what was I going to do, take an infant to have something lasered off purely for aesthetic reasons, right by her eye no less?

It turns out that the tiny dot was what’s called a pyogenic granuloma. Although it was indeed benign, it was problematic because it would continue to grow and bleed. The only answer was surgery and the only way for a baby to have such a surgery was under general anesthesia. The surgeon advised that the surgery be done as soon as possible because additional bleeds were imminent.

I quickly mobilized. I booked the surgery for about 10 days later. I scheduled her pre-op clearance. This meant that she had to be seen by her pediatrician and have blood tests done. One of her blood tests ended up coming back abnormal, but this happened sometimes, I was told. Could just be a lab error. But it needed to be redone immediately in order to to be cleared for surgery. So we went again and waited impatiently for the results. They never arrive when they say they will. You call this number and then that number, get transferred from department to department, begging for help and bursting into tears when you finally get a compassionate voice on the other end because if you don’t get these results your baby cannot have an urgently required surgery so she could stop bleeding from her face! You’re told it was faxed to this number at your doctor’s office and when you call your doctor’s office to confirm, they tell you that that’s actually a dummy fax number and here’s the correct one. HOW IS ANYONE STILL USING FAX MACHINES?!

At the 11th hour, my doctor’s office called. I expected to hear the voice of the nurse who had been helping me but instead I heard, “Hi, it’s Dr. Collins.”

She sounded cheerful but got straight to the point.

“The labs came back and it turns out that Avy does have a problem with her blood.”

She continued giving me information and instructions but what I was most aware of was this feeling of dropping down into myself, almost like I was taking cover within myself. I felt like I had been a spinning top of worry - worrying about whether the results would come back in time and worrying when she might bleed from her face again and worrying how the surgery was going to go - and it all suddenly stopped as I was hearing the words “blood clotting disorder.”

OH, I thought. THIS, THIS is what’s scary and stressful. Not whatever I had been worried about before this moment.

As I took notes from Avy’s doctor, I was aware that I felt very calm. I am good in a crisis, I thought. I edited my task list, got Avy up from her nap, and went to pick Ryker up from school. I was so calm. I’d been through scary stuff before. I could do this.

The process was intense. There were failed and repeated blood draws, hours in various doctors’ offices, and seemingly endless administrative problems with insurance. I suddenly had  in my phone the contact numbers of a pediatric plastic surgeon (specializing in vascular malformations, if we want to be specific), a pediatric hematologist, a pediatric dermatologist, a specialist pharmacy, and various labs. The clotting disorder meant that what could have been an outpatient procedure done in the surgeon’s office now had to be done at the hospital under a specific surgical plan involving specific clotting medication, which for some reason is “an old medicine” and therefore not easy to obtain. We also would have to stay overnight in the hospital so Avy could be monitored.

During these weeks, several friends - those that have known me for decades as well as newer friends I’d made at my son’s school - commented on how I could be so calm. “How are you dealing with all of this? Are you okay? How can you be so level-headed?” I was even coincidentally if ironically interviewed for a friend’s book for a chapter entitled, “Finding Calm Amidst the Chaos.”

I told everyone that I was sleeping as much as I possibly could and not focusing on anything other than getting my family through this. I told them of course I was really worried about the surgery, highlighting my concern about the anesthesia, but what could I do except put one foot in front of the other? Several parents told me that their kids had also needed to go under when they were little. None had had complications. A doctor friend told me that statistically, pediatric anesthesia was safer than putting your kid in the car. I clung to this information. We had no other choice. We couldn’t allow this thing to keep growing and bleeding, especially with her blood clotting disorder.

I kept checking in with myself, wondering if I was in denial about anything but it’s not like I was pretending like everything was fine. I very much did not want this to be happening but it was, so I was going to do my best to get my daughter the care that she needed. I infused my headspace with gratitude - primarily for our access to the best doctors in NYC which I told myself probably meant the best doctors in the world. I even felt the presence of divine intervention that we now knew about her blood clotting disorder, a very specific condition that is not routinely screened for and that we could be prepared for going forward. This tiny bump that was causing such trouble was actually a gift!

But what I only realize retrospectively is that deep down, I was back inside my trauma. That external calm I was projecting was coming from a very familiar internal fear and terror.

Avy’s 1st birthday came and went and I could not bring myself to launch the website like I had planned. I was afraid that if I told the world I’d had another baby and dared to put myself out there with something to say, I was going to jinx the surgery.

The opening piece I had planned to launch with was going to double as Avy’s birth announcement. It was a joyful piece about both of my kids and motherhood. The website overall was going to advocate for maternal mental health and there would be a lot of painful stories but I wanted to open with a happy one. I’ve been on both ends. I had a horribly traumatic birth with my son and a completely opposite experience with my daughter. I’m regularly mystified that things could be so different with the same process of growing, birthing, and taking care of a new baby. In sharing the range of my experiences I wanted to be a source of hope as well as empathy. I knew what it was like to be buried in years-long postpartum darkness and now I also knew what mothers meant when they said they were in love with their babies.

But I could not bring myself to post the piece.

I could not launch the website.

If I did, something bad could / might / would happen.

Maybe the granuloma, that tiny bump, was a warning. And the clotting disorder an even bigger warning. “You don’t deserve to be happy in motherhood. Your karma is that you will understand mental illness but not mental wellbeing. This last year has been a fluke. Just try boasting about how much you have learned and overcome. Something bad will happen to your baby. Something bad will happen to you."

In quiet moments, I would find myself pleading, praying that Avy would be okay. “Please don’t take her away from me. Even if I don’t deserve to be happy in motherhood. Please.”

I talked to friends about it. It didn't make any sense to anyone. How could posting something online bring about something bad? This was not logical thinking.

On the morning of the surgery, we all got up while it was still pitch black outside. The four of us were going to the hospital together. I would stay with Avy and my husband and son would drop us off by 6:30 AM.

As I was double checking our hospital bags, Ryker walked out of his bedroom and burst into tears.

“I don't want Avy to have surgery! I don’t want anything to happen to her! Is she going to be okay? What happens in surgery? Can something bad happen?”

He had not once expressed any concern about any of this up until this point. I think he has that calm exterior like I do.

At the hospital, we had a flurry of nurses and doctors around us. There were no other babies getting ready for surgery; there weren’t even any older children around. Avy stood out and everyone wanted to say hi to her. Many saw the worry in my eyes and assured me that everything was going to be fine. Some knew who the surgeon was and others knew who the pediatric anesthesiologist was. Avy would be in the best possible hands, I was told over and over again.

I was allowed to carry her into the Operating Room and be with her until she was put to sleep. She loved the mask she needed to breathe into; it smelled like berries. As she fell unconscious in my arms and I was instructed to place her onto the operating table, I broke into sobs and said to the anesthesiologist, “Please take good care of my baby, please please please. Please don’t let anything happen to her.”

The nurse who had walked me in suggested, “Mom, give Baby a kiss before we leave.”

I almost didn’t want to. Could it be taken as a final goodbye kiss? But of course I did, and as I looked at her tiny body on the adult-sized operating table, all I could do was pray and hope.

Avy came through the surgery wonderfully. When she woke up, she was playing with the anesthesia mask that smelled like berries, putting it up to the nurses’ faces, inviting them to smell how fun it was! The following 24+ hours in our hospital room were long and neither of us slept much, but I didn’t care. She was okay.

But that feeling of impending doom lingered. I was not able to relax even after the surgery and its risks were behind us. I was not able to accept that I wasn’t going to jinx the health of either of my children. I still could not stop thinking that there was a correlation between something I might do or think and something bad happening. We were leading into the holidays and the Omicron surge in NYC so circumstances weren’t particularly suited to writing and working on the site anyway. We were back to being holed up indoors and trying to keep everyone healthy.

Around Christmas, I started noticing these little heart flutters. At first it would just be once in the evening, and then a few, but sometimes there were so many that I couldn’t count them. My husband said it was normal, maybe it was because I had started exercising more regularly. But I kept envisioning things like my heart stopping and then dropping dead while I was holding Avy. I sort of laughed at my dramatic tendency towards hypochondria but I was also genuinely scared. What if I had heart disease? What if those flutters were signaling an imminent heart attack?

What bad thing should I be bracing myself for?

I went to see my GP. I explained my symptoms. He asked if they were activity-induced. I said no. He asked if they came with any difficulty breathing. I said no again. And then he asked, “How’s your anxiety been?”

I answered, “Well, things have been a bit intense over the last few months. The baby had to get surgery and we discovered she has a blood clotting disorder and that was really scary. My older one also ended up in the ER - twice - last year, but you know, they’re both fine now, everything’s fine now. But yeah, I guess, it’s all been worrying…”

And then, I burst into sobs. I immediately pointed to myself disparagingly to indicate how ridiculous it was that I was crying when everything is fine and said, “I mean clearly it’s been stressful, I guess maybe it could be anxiety? But I haven’t felt anxious. Which I guess is how my anxiety has always been, it has always snuck up on me. But, could anxiety really cause my heart to do funny things?”

He said, “Absolutely. The mind is very powerful.”

“Yes, of course, I mean, I know that. I’m a yoga teacher. But. Really? Heart palpitations?”

“It’s possible. We can definitely run some tests to rule out any physical issues. Have you been continuing with your therapy?”

I hadn’t been since before Avy was born.

In my therapy sessions leading up to her due date, I had talked a lot about feeling worried that I could go through postpartum depression again. My therapist reminded me that while I could not control what would happen, I knew so much more this time around, including how to identify symptoms and how to ask for help. I knew I could get through it. He reminded me that he would always be there.

We didn’t put any sessions on the calendar because I expected to be engulfed in all things newborn. I knew I could reach out if and when I needed. He checked in on me a few times after the birth, and I always responded happily: I was feeling great! Strong! Grateful! I had no childcare though and it was chaos at home so I couldn’t figure out when I could resume therapy, but I said I would get in touch at some point.

Truthfully, I kind of thought maybe I had graduated from ever needing therapy again.

My GP said that he would do an EKG and run blood tests for answers on my physical health and suggested that I reach out to my therapist to take care of my mental health. “Let’s not wait until your symptoms become full blown panic attacks,” he said. I had not thought of it in those terms, although it made complete sense.

The tests came back normal, I booked a session with my therapist, and almost immediately, the heart palpitations stopped.

Just knowing I was going to have that mental support from a professional, particularly one who has known me for years, helped immensely. I was comforted knowing that I would have help making sense of the tangle of thoughts and emotions that could feel heavy inside or that I was not even consciously aware of. I was also a little disappointed that I had been so unaware of my anxiety that my body had to quite literally shake me awake through heart palpitations. I was thankful for the nudge, but also thrown off.

One of my coping mechanisms is that I numb things out. It’s where that seeming calmness comes from. This numbing is something that happens to all of us when we go through things that are incredibly scary. That phrase - “I was in shock” - means things like I was frozen, I couldn’t think, I couldn’t feel, I don’t remember what happened, I didn’t know how to react. This is a trauma response.

I was already aware that this was something that I do. The tricky thing is, I don’t know how to be aware of it when I am in it. When we were going to all of the doctor visits for Avy, and waiting to get a better understanding of her health, I did find myself asking, “AM I okay? AM I in denial?” but I could not feel the answer. All I could hear myself say is, “I think I’m okay?” And the truth is, I was, I was okay. I had to be okay because I had to get Avy through her surgery and generally be there for my family. I was “being strong” and that was the best thing I could have done at that time.

I think the piece that I didn’t plan for was the emotional aftermath. I am good in a crisis. I get through because I have to, for survival. But then what?

There were little signs even before the day of Avy's surgery that I was feeling more scared than what was perceivable on the surface. Patches of eczema appeared, which for me has almost always been an indication that I was deeply stressed even, perhaps especially, if I was not aware of it. I also got Avy’s birthdate wrong on several medical forms. This is very “unlike me” as I am detail-obsessed and I have a weird ability to remember important numbers like dates and zip codes, which obviously includes the dates that my own children were born.

What I was unable to sort out for myself at the time was that while it was completely normal to be feeling stressed and overwhelmed about my child needing surgery, there was more going on for me way below the surface due to my personal history. My pre-existing diagnoses of PTSD and anxiety, the Traumas I have experienced, and my coping mechanisms as I braced for impact had all quietly been triggered into action.

“I find myself stuck again with my writing. It’s not the actual writing so much as sharing my writing. I really enjoy writing and I really want to launch my website but I keep delaying it. You would think I’m just lazy and making excuses… I even made the excuse that I thought launching the site would jinx Avy’s surgery, isn’t that so illogical? But I just could not get over that fear, even now that the surgery is over! I just feel stuck.”

My therapist had been quietly giving me space to speak. I waited for his response. “It sounds like PTSD,” he said thoughtfully.

It felt like a switch had flipped. PTSD? PTSD! Wait, PTSD? But everything had been fine with Avy’s birth, I hadn’t had postpartum depression this time. Why would I be going through PTSD?

“How was your mindset when you were pregnant with Ryker?” he asked.

“Oh God. I was such a fool. I had been totally and utterly naive. I thought that if I only allowed myself to think positive thoughts then I could manifest a positive birth experience. I did not even think about a c-section because I didn’t want to conjure it into the realm of possibilities. I wanted a water birth. I didn’t even know the term ‘emergency c-section.’ I thought c-sections were mostly by choice. I wanted a triumphant, “natural” birth. I envisioned being able to share my success story with everyone. And then I felt completely blindsided by how wrong everything went.”

“So you were naive and thought you could control things with a positive mindset and then, reality happened. You needed an emergency c-section. You got zapped by the powers that be. You conflated your naive optimism with the fact that something bad happened. You thought you somehow caused the bad thing to happen. But it isn’t true. You don’t have control of these things.”

“Right, and I went into Avy’s birth with a completely different mindset. That naiveté is long gone. And her birth was so different. Everything went as planned, no NICU, no postpartum depression. I’ve been so happy this time around. It felt like because I didn’t have unrealistic expectations, everything went okay. I felt so grateful. Then we found out she had to have surgery and I felt so scared. There was this sense that I had been bracing myself for the bad thing to happen.”

“You still hold the emotional memory of what happened in Ryker’s birth. You thought positive thoughts could ensure that only positive things would happen. We tend to like to find ways of controlling the uncontrollable. ‘Last time I believed something good would happen, boy did I get shown. This time if I don’t act happy - don’t announce the birth, don’t launch a website about motherhood - I won’t be punished. If people know I’m happy, I’ll be zapped.’ Trauma doesn’t just resolve itself and that’s it. As you process and heal it may not be as intense but it can still show up. There’s usually a residue.”

I felt almost instantly liberated in getting to assign my illogical fears to PTSD. It wasn’t a character defect such as laziness or a lack of commitment that was getting me in my own way. My inability to take action was due to a legitimate disorder, one that I was familiar with and therefore able to easily recognize once my therapist named it for me.

When I excitedly shared this one of my best friends, she was happy for me but she was also perplexed. “You knew all this already, right? This is what we’ve been talking about. That it was just fears and not really about your ability to jinx anything?”

I said, “But we never actually named the PTSD. It’s the naming of it that is so powerful. The naming of it clarified that this is not me. This is something separate from me. This is the PTSD. This whole time, I’ve been thinking it was me, getting stuck wondering what’s wrong with me?”

I tried to think of a metaphor that might help explain my point. “It’s like if you had a broken foot but you didn’t know you had a broken foot. You just suddenly found yourself unable to walk properly and all you could do was think it was something you weren’t doing right. Did you forget how to walk? Was your brain not communicating with your foot? Why couldn’t you do it? And then a doctor tells you, ‘Aha! Your foot is broken. You are not the problem. Anyone with a broken foot would have trouble walking.’ The doctor gets you on your way to healing your broken foot, which could only be done by first identifying - naming - that it was broken.”

There was incredible power in the nuance of naming the PTSD. Up until now, I had thought my PTSD had been neatly solved and stored, like a completed Rubik’s cube that now sat on display up on a shelf. Not forgotten, but not in active use.

The way I understood the impact of my trauma was that it exploded when the past - the unexamined trauma of growing up with a mentally ill mother - collided with the present - the trauma of Ryker’s birth. This caused postpartum depression, PTSD, and panic disorder and revealed the generalized anxiety disorder I’ve likely had my whole life. I came to understand that my traumatic experiences would always be part of my story; I would always hold my sadness and my pain, but more as a remnant of what was in the past, like a scar. I thought that the force of my traumas had been in my denial - albeit subconscious - of them. But I had worked hard and was very aware of their existence. I had allowed space for them to be processed. I was no longer unknowingly repressing them or actively trying to deny their existence. It was all under control.

I thought that my traumas, undoubtedly linked together, were neatly packaged up, bookended first by my childhood and second by the explosion of panic attacks that thankfully got me to therapy. Yes, my childhood had needed excavating but it had been done already. It was now way back there, in the past, over. I had “gotten help” and learned to identify and survive the waves and attacks of panic. I thought I had it all figured out. The broken foot had healed.

I mean, I didn’t really think it was that simple. That’s why I carried on with therapy even after the panic attacks stopped. I carried on writing and “doing the work.” I knew now that there were deep ramifications to squashing fears and feelings and grievances. I also accepted that my anxiety is a part of me, whether a product of my hardwiring or something that’s grown through my life experience. My anxiety is never too far, appearing now and again in mild scenarios like when I feel that my husband isn't braking quickly enough when driving on the freeway or like when I had those heart palpitations. But I now have tools so that I do not become overwhelmed by these moments. I am able to identify - name - my anxiety, which lessens its power. I even thank my anxiety for its well-intentioned but misplaced attempt to help me.

When it comes to the specific trauma of Ryker’s birth - the shock of the birth itself, NICU, and feeling trapped in the hospital as well as the shock of becoming mother - I thought all that had been done and dusted. Avy’s arrival seemed to validate this thinking. It felt like the predictably and calmness of her birth had canceled out the shock and insanity of Ryker’s. And it all must have somehow translated to my state of mind: I didn’t get postpartum depression this time around because I had already done the work. My depression, panic, and PTSD had happened last time because I needed to see, understand, and process things about my childhood that I had never looked at. In this way, my depression had served a very important purpose. That lesson had been learned. That’s why this time around, I was getting to have the experience of enjoying my baby.

I think the general experience that I had entering motherhood is not uncommon. I have three friends who are currently pregnant with their second baby. Each of these women had been like I had been the first time around, like how most first time expecting mothers seem to be. Somewhat naive and hoping for the best. Because really, it’s impossible to prepare for the plethora of possibilities that await you on the other side of pregnancy. Then you get there and you finally get it. Things are hard. I don’t know a single mother who hasn’t felt challenged by motherhood in one way or another. Birth is often hard, even when it looks like it was easy in an Instagram post. The logistics of feeding and sleeping are hard. Beyond the mechanics of having a baby though, every first time mother I know experiences an overhaul of their identity which comes with it at the very least, growing pains and maybe some grief as we lose, in an instant, the Me we used to be.

These three friends are all very excited to be pregnant again. They’ve stepped into their new sense of self, as have I. We are mothers. We love our first borns so much that we wanted to have another.

Each of these friends has also expressed to me that they feel a little more worried this time around. Since becoming mothers, we have all heard more stories about things going awry, whether with the pregnancy, the birth, a child’s health, or our own mental health. One of my friends experienced a miscarriage just a few months ago and ended up being hospitalized and needing surgery. Another is navigating the grief of her mother not being here for the birth of this child. The naiveté for us all is long gone. We are truly and utterly vulnerable.

And yet. We are willing and grateful to be able to have subsequent children. Even I, who went through the darkest period of my life following the birth of my first, wanted to have a second.

I think it’s the superhero warrior strength of mothers.

I was ready to face potential darkness again. I understood that I was more at risk of postpartum depression since I had had it before. When Avy was born and I didn’t feel that familiar darkness, I cautiously allowed myself to bathe in the light. I couldn’t believe how different everything was. The newborn smell that used to make me feel nauseous? The relentless, repetitive tasks of feeding, changing, burping, and comforting that I had resented? The ridiculous amount of stuff you need when you leave the house with a baby that felt overwhelming? All under the backdrop of a pandemic, Remote Learning, and being in between homes? It somehow all felt like a gift. I felt strong.

This time around, I was spared postpartum depression and panic attacks. Those are part of my history. What I didn’t recognize, however, was that there remained a residue of trauma, less intense than the initial onset of PTSD but insistent nevertheless, stealthy in how it slowly seeped into my thinking and my fears. The trauma was masterful in its trickery, quietly manipulating my thoughts and impacting my actions.

Recognizing my trauma (again) and naming my PTSD for what it is was powerful. It created a dissociation between myself and the debilitating thoughts I was having. It freed me from the repetitive loop of fear and inaction that I was caught in.

And so, here I finally am. Writing and telling stories about the good, the bad, and everything in between.

Thank you for being here, and welcome.

I am a mama, writer, yoga teacher, and mental health advocate.
More posts by Leah Kim.

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