Some Truth. Post-Partum Depression. My Journey.
I am a writer. I am not a chef and I never ever thought I would have a food blog. But here I am!
At the same time, I find it only fair to share a bit more about my journey…about how I got here. So from time to time, I will be giving a bit more insight into the personal side of things. If you found my blog because you are interested in plant-based nutrition or were simply googling specific recipes, feel free to skip this post. (I won’t take it personally)
If not, thanks for reading! I hope it sheds some light for someone somewhere.
Love and light to all… xx m
“Let food be thy medicine.” -Hippocrates
Nothing prepared me for the emotional rollercoaster of having a child. I knew, in certain terms, that it would be a huge overhaul of the life I had created for myself. I knew that it was something definitive, something huge- greater than anything I had ever felt or experienced.
What I didn’t expect was a lengthy and treacherous war – a war to be fought between my head and my heart.
From the very moment I laid eyes on my daughter, the initial rumblings of something gone very wrong began in my gut- like the warning bells of an approaching enemy. The first stone cast. Cautionary shots of a firearm. And from the instant that rifle was cocked, a foreboding noise reverberated in my head begging me to question the decision I had made to bring a child into my world.
I was at war for a long time- fighting little battles each day. Although as the days turned into months, the battles became less bloody- and as I began to find peace within my new world- I told myself that one day, I may even begin to enjoy it.
The moment my daughter was born- I didn’t cry. It wasn’t the best moment of my life. Not even close. I may sound like a terrible person for writing this down- for putting it into words. (Because words make it true.) But if what I am saying, what I am about to say- will ever help anyone feel less alone in that terrifyingly obscure abyss after giving birth, then so-be-it. Then again, I hope for all my friends and loved ones- that when their children are born, they experience that fairytale moment between husband and wife where they gaze at each other, exhausted and euphoric, with tears in their eyes- feeling an inestimable connection through their newborn child, in which it seems they are the only people on earth to have ever done this before. That is what I was expecting. It was a false hope. And I still felt, after the passage of time, as though I lost something I never even had….which is the worst kind of loss- because if you never had it in the first place, there is no way of salvaging it.
I didn’t feel connected- I felt conflicted…and then I looked that this tiny human- with her tiny feet and tiny hands, her rosebud mouth and big blue eyes- and there was something deep inside of me, growing greater with each passing hour, that felt something like love. But greater than any love I had ever known. And this intensified love compelled me to protect her, to hold her, to take care of her, and to never let her go. As the days passed, the hours upon hours of staring at my little girl, holding my hand on her chest to make sure it continued rising and falling, counting down the interminable days as they passed and she became stronger- I lost myself.
And then the old me- the only Morgan I had ever known- the ego, the mind, the heart, the soul… began to question. I wondered if what I was feeling was normal- if there was something wrong with me: If maybe I had made the mistake of allowing another person to become the source of my very happiness. I wondered if my connection to my child was too fanatical- dangerously extreme. I was trying to figure out where it was that I left myself. Why was it that I was no longer contented by doing the things that had previously filled my days, spending time with the people who had surrounded me up until that point- I tried to figure out where it was that I went- my thoughts, my desires, my penchants and proclivities. And as time wore on, I felt as though I left a large piece of myself back in that distressingly sterile delivery room.
My daughter was born, as I- the hopeless romantic- had requested: In the public hospital built on a tiny island in the middle of the Tiber river in Rome (Isola Tiberina). What location could be more fitting for the American in love with Italy to give birth? What better company to keep than that of Romulus and Remus?
But I began to hate that beautiful building on that romantic little island. I began to hate the Tiber itself. I would leave my daughter with the baby nurse for a few hours, walk along the ancient bridges I had once loved so much- and stare down at the murky waters of Rome’s winding river- wondering if those same waters had washed away a part of who I am- who I was. I almost wished that they would, in fact, wash me away.
I thought to myself that I love my child- more than I had ever loved anything or anyone before. And I had always believed that love makes the world go round- that love makes our days worth living. And here I was with more love than I knew what to do with for this little person- and I hated myself for it. This love eclipsed everything else. It eclipsed me and I fell into the darkness of the shadows cast by that very emotion.
Call it hormones, call it loneliness, call it shock….and it probably was, in part, a mixture of these things. But what’s the point in finding the reasons? All the books pointing to medial rationalities and friends attempting to psychoanalyze found directions in which to point their fingers. And I thought to myself, “why do I need to find the reason?” The thing to blame? When what I really needed was to find a solution.
I have never been a fan of pharmaceuticals, let alone psycho-pharmaceuticals. Therefore, for a great number of reasons, that road was out. Time was passing and yet, things were not getting better.
That was when I turned to nutrition and a little later, holistic wellness. Now, I know that post-partum depression isn’t cancer- it isn’t an auto-immune disease and it wasn’t going to kill me. But anyone who has ever suffered from depression knows that it is a real illness: it is a horrifying state of being in which it feels like your soul is rotting. It brings with it an internal darkness whose depths have no bounds. Dealing with depression is not a way I wanted to live this life- and it is definitely not the state to be in while raising a child.
I had previously read Colin T. Campbell’s The China Study and then I breezed through the pH Miracle as it examined acidic and alkaline foods. I finally, through pure luck (or I like the think the universe gifting me with something I needed at the perfect time), came across Kris Carr’s book “Crazy, Sexy Diet.” Furthermore, I had been a vegetarian since I was able to say “I don’t want to eat animals” and was becoming more and more aware of the actual footprint eating animal products was leaving on our dying earth.
Throw these references and habits into the mix, along with my long-time love of cooking and experimentation with food, the hours and hours I had on my hands as I sat around my beach house two summers ago with no-wifi (like the princess locked in the castle) and only cookbooks, nutrition books, my daughter, my dog, the nanny and a long stretch of beach with only thinking to do and voila’: I threw myself into the kitchen: inventing, discovering, eating and testing. I began chronicling my adventures in cooking, I began learning and reading more- venturing into the local markets and organic supermarkets- studying and acquiring information- trying out new whole-foods, plant-based recipes. I began dabbling in veganism, raw, alkaline and macrobiotic cuisines. Each day I was discovering new practices and coming closer to understanding holistic health: a blend of physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing. My kitchen looked like a war zone- with a huge excelsior dehydrator constantly on a low rumble, blenders, juicers, food-processors, the fridge and freezer filled to the brim with my concoctions… I filled my days with the discovery of my new self and my new passions as I had previously done with all projects of mine (large and small), be it my masters degree, my first television program, my first time producing, motherhood, ecc… and guess what? When the summer was over, not only did the physical effects of my new diet show, but I had gained so much more. The most important part was that I felt like me again. I was at peace. I was happy. The bounce was almost back in step and the world was once again mine to conquer. I came back to Rome renewed, refreshed and healthier than I had ever been and with a conviction that health (mental and physical) begins with what we put into our bodies. I had discovered a new way of living. And since then, almost two years have passed, and each day I study more, learn more, cook more, and my very experience on this earth- as a woman, as a mother, as a professional and as a human- has been heightened.
Now, the more I learn, the more I grow, the more I change….the more I realize that there is a huge community out there on the same path that I am on. Some are teachers some are students. I became a vegetarian 30 years ago because I love animals, I am slowly becoming a vegan because I love myself. And each day, I am learning to love myself even more.
Geographically, I have found that Americans are more open to a whole-foods, plant based lifestyles. This would have been an easier path to take if I were in a different location. However, I live in Italy. The home of the mediteranean diet, of pasta and of pizza margherita…. but even this beautiful wonderful country filled with wild boar ragu and prosciutto di parma has its vegans.
So here I am, on this new journey in a country where I almost feel like one of the pioneers.
When I began my first blog over eight years ago, I cited this quote by T.H. White with respect to my MBA:
“The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlyn, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting.”
And here I am, for the past two years now, learning again. Trying to quiet the voices in my mind and the doubts in my heart. I learn to understand the world, I study to understand myself. And here in this blog, is pretty much what I have come up with. The result of learning, reading, studying, pushing myself and elaborating with a passion about food, nutrition and wellness.
I am not a nutritionist, nor am I a chef. I don’t have some horrifying illness that I have bounced back from by having a whole-foods, plant based diet. I am not a doctor and I am not an expert. But I have been a vegetarian for 30 years, I have been cooking and experimenting in the kitchen, I am continuing my education in nutrition and wellness through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN). I am a conscious animal lover, earth mother, humanitarian. I am now a mother to my own daughter and as important my own nutrition is to me, what I put in my little girl’s body is paramount.
So here I am, An American girl in Italy- a sometimes Vegan sometimes rawitarian, a mother, a cook, a wife to a bon-vivant carnivore, and as always: a searcher, a dreamer a finder…
And this time, I did as Hippocrates said: “Let Food Be Thy Medicine.”