This post has been nine months in the making. While I didn’t intend to share my actual thoughts throughout the last several months here on the blog, I think it’s necessary to get an “as-it-happens” account of what dealing with depression really is. At the end of the day, I hope to let the mother/woman that is feeling completely underwater know that you are not alone in this. While it might seem that way, I promise you that there are others feeling just a low, and down and out, as you are.
Trust me when I say that this blog post is more for me than it is for you. This post is a touchstone for me to look back on and realize I made it out of the fog, not unscathed, but out with a new level of respect and love for myself. If you decide to read on (warning: long post ahead), I want you to be aware that these are different passages I’d written to myself since February when I finally came to terms with the fact that there was something really wrong with me. I plan on writing a follow up post with how I’m doing now, which isn’t necessarily rainbows and butterflies by any means, but definitely in a much better place. And this “better place” is a recent development. So the fact that I may fall into that deep, dark place again is possible, yet I’m more hopeful than I’ve been in a long time.
Thanks for stopping by and reading about the most vulnerable season of my life.
“Postpartum depression is debilitating. When I get submerged in grief and fear, it paralyzes me dead my tracks. I can be in the middle of a workday completely overwhelmed and unable to react to anything that’s given to me. Sometimes it just grows too much to bear. That feeling when you are in the brink of tears, you are consumed in that feeling at all times. And that fogs up your mind and freezes up your emotions and you can’t fully function. It’s like a bad workday plus feeling like a failure as a mother, as a wife, as a child plus feeling disoriented in your self all rolled up into a ball clinging right in the essence of your soul. How can someone be fully present when there is so much pent up grief and anxiety? It’s like you’re a shell of a former version of yourself. And that’s who you’re grieving. The person you’ve lost along this journey. I’m not ready to fight for my life – I don’t think I deserved to be valued at my job, for quality time with my kids, for alone time with my husband – I didn’t think I deserved anything good. Even within the happy times I still feel a dark cloud over me, not allowing me to truly enjoy the blessings in my life. I deserve nothing.”
“I’ve tried to keep a brave face with a nice happy smile and a grateful heart but it’s hard to pretended. In addition to the hysteria I feel inside, the pretending is exhausting and draining. Which makes sense why I’m isolating myself from those I love. The constant feeling of drowning is overwhelming. I know I am blessed beyond compare but I can’t seem to find a place where I can revel in all my blessings. I have in-laws that are willing to help us at all times, a job, a supportive and loving husband, two healthy beautiful children, my health, and a life that I should be completely and utterly thankful for yet I can’t seem to find the silver lining to get me from being completely miserable to even having a tinge of happiness. I feel like my emotions are going haywire at all times and controlling them takes so much power and I just want to give up.”
“The extremes are the worst. One second I’m happy as a clam and certain I’ve finally made it through to the other side of this depression and the next I’m at such a low point I don’t think I’ll ever get better. From my highest highs to my lowest lows, postpartum depression has drained me to my core and has ripped apart my emotions at their most rawest form, it’s debilitating.”
“Today my therapist told me that I’m a highly functioning depressed person. I compartmentalize very well, i.e. I’m excellent at pushing away feeling into some far and away box in my head and letting it stew there until the next big drama, or better yet, forever. She once mentioned she was curious to see how I dealt with loss. I’d told her I’ve lost people in my life, in different forms, and told her that I’d processed the loss as best I could. Meaning I registered the loss and went about my day as if nothing traumatic happened. That’s how I deal with problems. And that’s what makes depression the hardest problem I’ve ever had to face because I can’t just wish it away and poof it’s gone forever. Nope, this sucker keeps sticking around. Even on days I’m convinced I feel all better and I beat it, I feel that dark cloud in the back of my mind reassuring me that I’m still broken, that none of this “happy” will last, that it’s all an illusion I’m playing for myself. And so I give in, isolate myself and try my hardest to lock away this depression in one of those lost boxes somewhere in my head for just enough time to get me through the meeting, or through the dinner with friends, or through playing outside with my kids. The cloud is always there, just waiting till I let my guard down to remind me I’m not really happy.”
I wrestled with the title of this post but finally settled down on the word battle because that’s exactly what I’m going through – a daily battle to keep it together, to not let my inner pessimist win over my once optimistic heart.
Again, thank you for taking a peek into my soul during the most traumatic months of my life. As I mentioned before, I do plan on whipping together a few follow on thoughts to this post and a check in on what life is like on the other side of the dark tunnel. I am not fully out of the storm but the rain doesn’t quite sting as much as it once did. I’ve found some semblance of peace or a more steady balance, if you will, and I’d like to reassure those that are still fighting the good fight that there is calm even in the middle of it all. So with that I’m signing off.