I love the Golden Girls with all of my heart. There’s this episode where Rose goes bat shit crazy and buys a gun because she’s afraid of getting robbed. Super slutty Blanche and her boytoy open the door one night after canoodling near the front door and Rose almost blows their brains out. Sophia delivers her usual one-liner, this time remarking, “I lived eighty, eighty-one years; I survived two world wars, pneumonia, a stroke and two operations. One night I’ll belch, and Stable Mable over here will blow my head off!”
I’m a Rose. I’m a Stable Mable, or, at least I was when I decided to start blogging. My anxieties were different and I wasn’t packing heat, but I was no less of a loaded gun. At the conception of my blog, I was living with postpartum depression. I suppose I’m still living with it, but PPD and I have a much different relationship these days. We aren’t necking out on the front porch or anything, but we’ve learned to coexist.
My first son was born in September of 2011. I was overwhelmed. I cried. I sweat more than any one lady should ever admit. There were days I couldn’t make him stop crying. There were days I didn’t take a shower. Things were difficult, but I was in control. I got better at everyday tasks. I learned to laugh when things went wrong. I stopped crying so much. I eventually stopped sweating. I loved that little crying baby with all my heart.
My second son was born in January of 2014. I immediately loved him too. I’m lucky; I know I am. Postpartum can rob mothers of this connection. The polar vortex was in full force. For days on end we were cooped up in the house. I blamed my darkening mood on the weather, healing, potty training, a fussy baby, and a husband with long hours. Eventually the weather lifted, the preschooler was out of diapers, and the baby wasn’t so fussy anymore. My mood did not improve. I had managed to ace every postpartum screening I encountered. I knew how to answer the questionnaires to avoid suspicion. I knew how to sound like a happy mom. I pretended. A lot. I was struggling to make time for all the things I needed to do in one day. Taking care of myself seemed impossible when my plate was already so full.
My impossible became necessary when my depression intensified. I lost control of myself as a person. I was bitchy, irritable, and downright angry. My fuse was short. My reactions were physiological—spiked blood pressure, lightheadedness, the urge to strike out. I stopped sleeping. I repeat; I stopped sleeping. I was averaging 3 hours of a sleep a night. Part of this was being up with a baby, but the other portion was fueled by depression. I couldn’t turn my mind off. I couldn’t control the most basic element of myself. Everyone around me was suffering because of it. My son started asking why mommy cries all the time. I couldn’t face him. I couldn’t talk to my husband. I started believing that I was better off dead, that it would be easier for everyone if I wasn’t around. I figured that my boys would heal faster losing their mother at 2 and 6 months than later on. I actually believed I was reasoning with myself. I was in my darkest place, and I scared the hell out of myself and everyone around me. After fantasizing about driving into a tree, I asked the one person I could for help, and was told if I didn’t go to speak to someone immediately, he would have me hospitalized. I took the threat seriously. I went to both my doctor and a therapist, and told the truth. It was uncomfortable. It was terrible. It was some of the hardest shit I’ve ever had to do.
I was a depressive before the births of my sons, and I knew that I ran the risk of postpartum, or simply my depression reoccurring. Baby baking and child birth is a full body effort, to say the least. I knew what I was hiding, and I was making a conscious decision to mask some of my emotions and reactions. I was treated with medication in the past; I wanted to pump for my son. Treatment would render my supply useless. I didn’t have the time to go to weekly therapy sessions; I couldn’t find a sitter for all that. I would get better over time if I just waited for my hormones to balance out; maybe losing some weight would make me feel better. I was a woman of excuses. I was a woman of inaction. Mostly, though, I was afraid. I was afraid of what the world would make of a depressive mother. To me, those words are at such odds, such a juxtaposition of entities, that I couldn’t wrap my mind around how to be a depressive and a mother. Mothers are women of action. They can rock babies! They can sew! They can make lunches! Depressives aren’t usually go- getters. Mothers aren’t slowed down by pesky irritants like emotions! Moreover, mothers are bursting at the seams with love. They can hardly contain themselves from kissing your face off! Depressives don’t have quite the same wrap. I didn’t understand, then, how I could be both. I was worried about being judged. Quite frankly, I still have the same worry. Nothing changes your view of happy mother faster than learning she has PPD.
Despite my reservations, I decided to speak up today about my experience because somewhere someone else may be feeling like how I did. Some other mother may be a figurative loaded gun. I’m here to say, I feel ya, honey. This motherhood shit’s not at all how the sitcoms made it look (not even my beloved Golden Girls). I’m also here to say that you aren’t alone, mama, and that things can and WILL get much better. With treatment and hard work, I’ve learned to be one of the better adjusted depressives you will ever meet. I’ve learned to love myself enough to accept what I cannot control, and move forward. I’ve learned to be better because I love them, and I literally would do anything in the world for my children. In time, I’d like to talk more about my experience with treatment, my determination to change portions of my lifestyle, and the lovely place I’ve carved out for myself as a mother and a depressive. Grab a drink, ladies, and meet me out on the lanai, for I’ve got quite the tale to tell yet.
Moms, ladies, please do me a solid. PLEASE talk to a medical professional or call a crisis call center if you are experiencing any possible symptoms of PPD. It is as real as a heart attack; love your babies and yourself enough to take the first step. ~ Megan
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