C'est la life of a mommyblogger, eh?
Speaking of life, and of mommy blogging, how's this for some shit?
I have post partum depression. Again.
Thinking that I had sailed smoothly past the telltale signs and symptoms of this most dreadful of maternal foes, I somehow failed to connect the dots until this past weekend:
- anger, uncontrollable at times
- exhaustion, bone-deep, even after 8 + hours of sleep
- shortest temper ever (think tears and wailing over spilled milk, smeared poop, burnt toast)
- stalled weight loss/insatiable appetite (hmmm, those two might be more closely related to each other than to an outside impetus. I'll get back to you on that one.)
- weeping spells
- feelings of "I can't do this"/"This was a terrible mistake"
- the unshakeable certainty that I was certainly the most unfit mother in all the land
- numbness and the propensity to 'zone out' periodically throughout the day
I thought it was worth putting it out there, embarrassing and humbling or no, simply because I've talked about it here before and gotten so much amazing feedback from my mom-rades in arms, and also because duh, this is a blog, and what good is a blogger without transparency?
So there it is. I have it, again. And maybe I'm the stupid one for saying "yes" to a new baby 3 times in 4 years, or maybe this is just the particular cross I've been handed to carry at this moment, but whatever the case may be, I don't see any benefit to avoiding it here on the 'ol blog. I'm not asking for commentary from the peanut gallery on how 'stupid' having kids is when you're mentally ill/prone to mental illness (aren't we all, as humans?) and believe me, I've had that kind of feedback in the past. But it won't keep me from speaking out because I know there are other moms out there who are dealing with this, who have dealt with this, and who will deal with this in the future. And it sucks. And you feel totally alone and alienated from reality and out of touch with your past/present/future self…but here's the thing: it's not you.
I'll never forget something Dave said to me while we were dating, and I know I've mentioned it here before. After I confessed to him my struggle with depression and the embarrassment and sorrow I felt over my illness he wrote me a beautiful letter - in Adoration, no less - and in it he quoted Bl. John Paul II who adjures Christians to remember that "the person is not their illness, and is never to be confused with the condition from which they suffer" … or something to that effect.
"You are not your illness, Jenny" was the specific line that stands out in my memory of that letter from him. I believed it then, and I still believe it now, and that's why I feel confident in sharing this here. Because it's not me. It's something that is happening to me, yes, but it's not the sum of who I am as a person, or as a mother. I've been a good mother before. And I'll be a good mother again. And in fact, I'm a good mother even now, in the midst of the hard times, because I'm still doing it, dammit. Because adulthood. And responsibility. And faithfulness.
Anyway, I'm taking steps to get better. I had some progesterone injections today, courtesy of my fantastic Creighton-trained doctor. I'm in the process of scheduling some counseling sessions to talk it out. I'm working with my Creighton instructor (who happens to be a nurse and a nutrition junkie herself, conveniently enough) to plot a course using supplements and nutritional tweaks. I might even get rilly crazy and toy with the dose on my regular 'ol daily antidepressant (for my regular 'ol depression, not to be confused with PPD. Aren't I a lot of fun?)
At any rate, we'll see how things go. Already after just 2 progesterone shots today I feel as if there is air in the room again, if you know what I mean. Before I could breathe and breathe and still feel oxygen deprived. But now…it's all seeming a little lighter. A little more manageable.
So that's where I'm at. I'm not looking for sympathy here, but I am asking for empathy, because I know there are enough of us out there who have gone through this, or who know somebody who is going through this. Pray for them. Offer to watch their kids so they can get to a doctor's/therapist's appointment. Don't say stupid stuff to them like "well, maybe you should stop getting pregnant if it makes you so sick." Hi, that's asinine, and it's equivalent to telling cops to quit showing up for their shifts if they don't want to keep getting shot. Occupational hazard and all. Rant over.
I hope this helps someone. Or I hope it helps you understand someone you love.
I do know one thing: she was more than worth it.