Sometimes, I feel like I make these grand assertions on here, and there’s only grand to me. Which is fine; it’s my blog. I write it for my own (lame) memory’s sake, anyhow, so any assertion I wanna make is one I should feel good about making right?
But here’s one that I really am taking very seriously. It’s not about my hair, my weight, or even cleaning. Well, it’s sorta about cleaning. Mainly, it’s about me.
See, I have lots of very strong, capable women around me. Most (if not all) of these women have given birth at some point. And while every woman has their very own birth story, there has been one thing I’ve never heard anything about in my own circle, so I assumed it was just an urban legend.
Then, as it all came crashing down around me this last week, I realized that urban legends have to have some truth to them in order to circulate. So maybe it’s NOT so mythical. Maybe real people DO get Post-partum depression.
This last week, I got stuck in a very dark, very deep place. I’ve been doing that off and on since the baby was born, unfortunately, but I was always quick to attach an excuse to it. First it was exhaustion. “I’m depressed because I’m exhausted.” What new mom wouldn’t be? Then it was the hormones. “My body’s going through so many changes, so I’m feeling depressed.” Again, totally plausible. Then, the reasons varied between plausible and completely ludicrous, anywhere from “The baby’s been so sick, so I’m just run down and blue” to “I can’t stand to wash any more bottles, I JUST CAN’T, and JesusGod, if someone doesn’t rescue me from this monotony..”
There is SO MUCH GUILT associated with this. Because I don’t fit the mold of what I think PPD should be. I don’t hate my baby, I don’t resent my baby, I don’t regret my baby.. any of that. But there’s this overwhelming heaviness, hanging over me like a little black raincloud. Even on good days, it’s not that they’re GOOD, it’s just that they suck LESS.
And I felt feel so guilty, because I KNOW how lucky I am.
As you can see, I still catch myself trying to clean up my language, trying to bury what is gnawing away at me. Because it’s not in my nature to say, “I’m just sad and I don’t know what to fix and I need help.” I shouldn’t need help; I’m a big girl with all the capabilities of any human being, and I should be able to handle this. Right?
Wrong. So horribly and obviously wrong.
I came in Monday night after a board meeting to dishes in the sink and a house that needed cleaning, and it was too much. I crawled into bed without saying two words to my husband, my best friend, whom I would usually share anything with. And as he rubbed my head later, trying to coax it out of me, all I could say was, “Does it ever get better? Does it ever become easier? Less routine?”
He said, “Well, just try and enjoy the moments. Each laugh of Tony’s is different. So just enjoy each moment as it comes.”
I looked at him and pondered squeezing his eyeballs into his skull with my thumbs, because I would’ve enjoyed THAT moment right then, but instead, I just fell asleep. Because it wasn’t that I was morbidly depressed; it was that I was numb.
Last night, after shutting myself off from him all day, we fell into bed again and I tried different words. “I am just so sad,” I started. Then the tears came. And I was slightly excited, because it was the most I’d felt in a LONG time. “I love my son, and I love you, and everything is so perfect, and yet I don’t feel happy. I feel run-down and tired and lost and numb. I feel empty.”
“We’re going through a lot, you know,” he said. “What with a new baby, your new job, a new house, you going back to school.. that’s a lot. Of course you’re stressed.”
“It’s not stress,” I sobbed. “I think I need to see a doctor.”