Having a child made me an alcoholic.
Or perhaps more accurately, postpartum anxiety and depression made me an alcoholic.
After my daughter was born, I could barely eat. I couldn't sleep for days. It felt like my entire being was vibrating with anxiety pulsating through my veins.
I thought it was normal, and would go away. I didn't know I could ask for help. Hell, I was under the treatment of both a psychiatrist and therapist at the time and I didn't know I could or should ask for help.
Some of it eased when I gave up breastfeeding. The relief was comparable to cancelling plans with friends so I can stay home and do nothing--like a weight of "should, must, have to" off of my shoulders.
At a celebratory dinner that my in-laws treated us to after she was born, my husband ordered a bottle of wine--my first since before I was pregnant. The relief was nearly instantaneous.
My husband had taken to getting boxed wine when I was pregnant, so he can enjoy a drink now and then without the bottle turning into vinegar in the fridge. I took to stealing sips of it here and there.
Sips turned into glasses, glasses into bottles.
Wine was "Mommy's Little Helper." It turned my anxiety down by a few notches, to "Still Anxious But Now I Can Function." It took my depression from "Stuck to the Couch" down to "I Can Exercise!"
It lifted the lid on a boiling pot just a little bit, so I can do the dishes, the laundry, take care of a baby, without overflowing, especially since I was often alone with her while my husband worked evenings. Day and night, nothing but work and childcare. Wine made it tolerable.
But it made a new problem. I used it for even average stresses. Average anxiety. I was dependent.
Facebook likes to share "On This Day." That video of my daughter and I laughing together? The picture I took of her, me, and our dog together? I was drunk. It had allowed me to laugh, to smile, to change poopy diapers--all because I didn't know I could get other kinds of help.
I'd quit a couple of times already. I relapsed a couple of times already. I've quit again.
I finally had the courage to admit my drinking to my therapist, psychiatrist, myself. I got help. I got help again. And again.
Now, when anxiety gets the best of me, I'm taking Klonopin. It dissolves in my mouth, to help me faster. It's not the same as a half a bottle of wine, but it helps.
Now, we're still tweaking medication to try to vanquish this depression that clings to me like a cloud of exhaust, like a low-hanging downburst of thoughts like, "I should jump off a building, and break my legs. I should step in front of a car. I should cut myself enough that I need stitches." Thoughts that clamor around like ducks to bread, making me want to seriously self-injure, but not to die.
Wine had helped mask these thoughts. Take them off of the electric burner for a bit so it could cool down. Now, I have to face these thoughts head on, but I'm trying to do better about getting help when I need it.
I was a drunk mommy. A drunk mommy full of guilt over the fact that I had to be drunk to survive being a mommy.
Now, I'm a sober mommy. A sober mommy full of guilt, because everyone deserved better.
These are the lessons I've learned:
If you are anxious--tell your psychiatrist and therapist.
If you are depressed--tell your psychiatrist and therapist.
If you are overwhelmed--tell your psychiatrist, therapist, friends, and actually accept the help they offer.
And no, that wasn't just the "baby blues" that I had. I should have asked for help sooner. And I hope you will, too.
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