PPD, yea you know me

I wondered to myself in my quietest moments many many times during my pregnancy about post-pardem depression.  I had experienced depression before, got help, knew what to do, not to spiral, to move on and calm down.  I was logical and rational about it. I knew how to gauge my feelings and tell myself it would pass.  Surely when my kid gets here I can keep that up if it goes up a notch.  I’d get help again.  But it wouldn’t, right?  I mean, how bad could it be?  Would I really feel like killing myself?  Hurting my baby?  Seems like it will be the happiest time of my life, I’ve wanted her so long, why would I want to kill myself???  I couldn’t wrap my head around it.  It made no sense.

How sure I was.

Looking back, that little voice that kept bringing it up somewhere deep deep deep inside knew all along that I was destined for at least a touch of it.  That voice that always knows my real self, but rarely speaks up loud enough for my ego to hear it over the “LA DI DA DA EVERYTHING IS FINE” song it sings while putting its fingers in it ears. That little voice that when I do hear it and listen carefully, never steers me wrong.

A touch of it is what I got.  If you measure a touch as someone putting a toaster in a pillow case and swinging it around knocking you in the head.

I know.  I’m another sad woman not grateful for what she has.  Or maybe you think “Oh god, me too.”  Either way, it was real and it happened to me, and I don’t care if anyone else felt the same way and if you are feeling like this, you probably won’t either.  No matter how many other people out there had it happen to them, it didn’t help.  The stories didn’t help.  All I knew was that I was supposed to be happy, I wasn’t.  I was terrified and sad and could never sit still.  I only knew how happy everyone else said they were and I wasn’t.  Why wasn’t I?

It made absolutely no sense to me. What it was supposed to be was the one time in my life where I should have unspeakable joy and I finally made my own family and we have created life right in front of me.  It was.  On the outside I was doing everything I could for her, that little girl.

On the inside, something else blocked all that happiness out.

Instead, I just wanted to get in my car and drive to New Mexico alone in the middle of the night.  I thought my kid would be better off without me, because I was crazy.  That if I died and made it look like an accident, I could leave her insurance money and she would have everything she needs.  Nothing I could give her if I was still alive.  That every time I had a quiet moment to myself all I could do was sob or worry that I had made a grave mistake by not bringing her into a family that was stable and rich and educated and happy and secure.

Of course, none of this makes sense to me now, on the other side.  The medicated and enlightened side looking back at that poor woman 5 months ago who had no idea how hard she would be on herself when she was doing everything she could, the grieving she needed to do over the way her baby was born, the amplification of every single anxiety she had about herself and her shortcomings, that her role as caregiver to everyone in her life needed to be put on hold for awhile, and how much she needed people to help her but couldn’t ask because she couldn’t form the words to utter what exactly was wrong.

Or that she had no idea just how strong she really was.

The turning point came one morning when I ran out to get coffee for my husband and I, a quiet moment alone on a weekday during the last parts of my maternity leave.  I sat in the car outside of the cafe and just like every shitty movie this scene would be in, it was raining.  The windshield wipers were beating on the car and I couldn’t move.  I couldn’t physically get out of the car, or stop sobbing, or call anyone or do anything.  I was sobbing the racking awful body shaking sobs that only the truly sad can experience, yet I had no idea why.  Why?  I screamed it out loud through tears in that car over and over for over 20 minutes before I collected myself enough to go in and get the fucking coffee.

That morning that little voice inside me finally spoke up loud enough.

It was after that morning I could start telling myself to stop when the sad part of me tried to get me to run away, or take too many pills or disappear.  That little voice made myself busy with cleaning or sewing or sleeping until it could figure out what to do with the sad part of me.  Again, it was that little voice that made me ask others how I seemed.  After a conversation with my sister and friends, I realized I really wasn’t myself anymore.  The sad part finally got it.  I was two people.  The voice was trying to save the other from what, I didn’t know.

But now, a month after I got help, I’m whole. A month after my very understanding doctor took one look at me and said “you need something to make everything inside calm down.”  A month after I summoned up every ounce of courage I had to admit to that doctor that I was falling, that I couldn’t do it anymore.  A month since I had to answer “yes” to that cliche question of “Do you have thoughts of hurting yourself?”  The two parts of me are now one, working together to keep me alive.

A month feels like a lifetime now.

Sitting here on the other side, a whole person again, calm and happy and able to enjoy my baby’s smiles and giggles and even her cries, I desperately want to go back to that woman, myself, 5 months ago.  I want to hug her to keep her together.  Me, sitting in the hospital with my new baby girl sleeping on my chest, sobbing to myself quietly at 3:00 a.m. so my husband won’t wake.  The me now wants to put my arm around her and tell me that I am the strongest person I will ever know, I am going to be the mother I always thought I’d be, and I am amazing.

Because I am.  We all are, really.



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