Navigating the Abyss…

Allow me to get serious for one post. As briefly touched on in a couple of previous posts, yours truly has post-partum depression. Not baby blues, not winter bummers, but post-partum depression. I became aware of this around Christmas time, maybe even before. Now, I always get a little moody in the winter, and probably have undiagnosed Seasonal Affective Disorder. I don’t like fall after the leaves have dropped and I don’t like winter and spring before the flowers bloom. I don’t like watching the world around me wither and decay. I love watching it be reborn, but I hate watching it die.

December is always a hard month for me. I have lost several people important to me during that month. February is difficult too, for the same reason. I don’t dwell on or ponder these losses, but I feel them nonetheless. So I always get a touch of gloom in the winter. From what I hear, it’s pretty normal.

This time, however, I have a new baby. Well, he’s not so new anymore but he might as well be with the lack of sleep I get. Sleep deprivation, over the course of five months, has wrecked havoc on my mind, my body, and my sense of well-being. It is truly amazing what a lack of sleep can do to you. I began comfort eating again. This has recently dropped off somewhat, but only because it hurts to eat because of my teeth. But that is a beast for another entry.

Having been down the depression path before, I began noticing around Christmas time that life had lost its lustre a little bit. Not much, in fact, if I had not experienced depression before, I honestly probably wouldn’t have noticed. But for me, it was enough to start a chain reaction. How dare I feel like I felt? I had a new baby, for goodness sake, I should be over the moon. You would think, having done this twice before, I would have known better than to hold myself up to the SuperMom standard. And in December, I was still feeling the hurt, shame, and disappointment at yet another failed nursing attempt (again, another beast for another day).

I wasn’t over the moon. I was overwhelmed (Note: I am writing in the past tense but please be assured that I am still dealing with these issues.). I fell into the vicious trap of I am so over this mom thing/Oh em gee, how dare I say that about my precious children?/I fail as a mother/I am so over this mom thing. Lather, rinse, repeat until you vomit. I casually mentioned to the Mister “I think I might need to go on something”. At that time, he brushed it off, certain that our then two month old would start sleeping better. Don’t come down on the Mister. He didn’t know. Hell, I didn’t know. Had I known, I would have gotten my arse on meds right then. But I as well thought that it was just exhaustion from having a two-month-old, and that it would improve in a month or so. No point in going on a medication that takes up to six weeks to reach full effect when BabyBoy could be sleeping better in another month, right?

WRONG. Wrong wrong wrongity wrong. How very mistaken the Mister and I were. January passed. Then towards the end of February, I looked at him and said “I need to go on meds. Getting a good night’s sleep every night would probably help me the most, but I am not getting that, and until I do, I need something else to help me so I can be a relatively pleasant Merry.” I knew the issue had grown bigger than me when he said simply “Okay”.

I had gotten to the point that I would visibly flinch whenever BabyBoy would even draw in the deep breath that heralded the start of a crying spell. I preferred cleaning the litterbox to holding my son. I would immediately hand him off whenever I could. I am not proud of this. I am ashamed of it, but it has to be said. And it truly had nothing to do with my son as a person/baby. I had just had enough. I felt like I had failed, like I was a horrible mother. I was snapping at my girls more often. I was picking fights with the Mister. I was miserable and I wanted someone to see how unhappy I was and tellme I needed help. I didn’t want to be the one to say it. To me, to say it was to admit defeat. To admit that I was a weak woman and worse, a weak failure of a mother. I didn’t want to do that. It was inconceivable to me.

But finally I threw up the white flag and gave up. And it does feel like I have conceded to all that I stated above. You can tell me I’m strong for getting help, that I did the right thing. I know I did the right thing, but I do not feel strong. I started Lexapro yesterday and I feel like I have lost. I still must hang in there for a couple weeks while the medication does its job and starts working to its full capacity. I am reminded of this when I feel the immediate side effects of the medicine. The shaky hands and nauseated feeling if I don’t take it with a light meal. I am reminded I have to hang in there. But I do not immediately feel better. I am aware that I made the best choice for myself and my children, and my relationship with the Mister, but I do not feel happy about medication. I am not proud. I *do* feel ashamed, weak, incompetent as a mother. I know this is the depression messing with my already overthinking head, and I’m aware of that. But I would be lying if I said I feel instantly better, because I. Do. Not. I know I will in a relatively short amount of time.

However, I do feel hope, which has been missing for some time now. I feel a slight bit of optimism returning, and I am looking forward to feeling better, if only a little bit better.

But hopefully it will be a lot of better.

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2 responses to “Navigating the Abyss…

  1. G-ma, Martha, Martee, Mom Xakellis

    I think I have to say that all mothers, first-timers or multi-timers, will have post-partum depression. Whether you are in a deep abyss and feel that you have totally failed, or just all of a sudden you realize that you are not sure whether you want to to on with it. We have a jacked-up expecatation of what mother should be, and it just doesn’t work out that way. If only more mothers would say, without shame, that they are having trouble adapting to the whole new experence/mess. These little ogres/mosters/blessedly sweet when asleep do grow older and than you will have to adapt to a whole new situation. Even when your kids are 47 plus, you have situations to handle. They are worth it. Love and hugs and understanding are a requrement.

    • For those of you who don’t know, the above commenter is my grandmother, the woman who raised me and helped shape the person I’ve turned out to be. She’s pretty awesome. Just letting y’all know that.

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