I’ve been struggling to write. Probably bad timing since I shot gun decided to launch a blog and typically writing content is important in that situation.
I’ve tried. I have sat down in several occasions and attempted to write but it stutters and won’t flow. It’s robotic, I can’t find my voice.
The last few weeks have been hard. Like, really hard. I could say the last few years have been hard with many highs and lows; but its just like everyone else, you just ride the waves. There are highs and lows and sometimes the lows are really low, and the highs don’t cancel them out. But eventually things get calm again, you pull yourself together, look back and pat yourself on the back and say, “thank god that’s over.”
Except, what happens when things are calm and you get anxious, and you can’t seem to pull yourself together? You’re frantically sewing together the seams but it’s unraveling faster than your hands can handle? That’s what it has felt like dealing with this illness, condition, monster, whatever you want to call it.
I have postpartum depression.
This diagnosis hit me hard. Not because I was in denial, because I considered I was affected by it for a long time. In fact depression was always a discussion at the family dinner table growing up because of how many of my family members have been affected by it, there was no stigma for me. Why was it so hard for me to say something then?
It is because as a mother I hold myself up to an extremely high standard. I’m not trying to outdo anyone else. It’s just who I am. I have always been a perfectionist, impossible to please, always room for improvement. It’s not even a trait my parents instilled in me. I have just always challenged myself, or risen to the challenges presented before me.
So, the fact I was unable to meet my own standard, even a mediocre attempt at my own standard, I felt like a failure. I took it as a sign to try harder.
Except I had nothing more to give.
All that was left was frustration at my own shortcomings. And that turned into frustrations for everyone else’s shortcomings. My expectations on a good day are pretty unrealistic at times, and now they were even higher.
I was also angry. All. The. Time.
And then I feel nothing. I laugh because it’s the punch line. I feel as if I’m walking in half way through a conversation, I’m so disconnected. I wasn’t crying all the time, consumed with sadness. I was angry. I was just a bitch. A failure for not being able to handle the sleep deprivation. A shitty mom.
My worst fear. But not depressed.
Get your fucking shit together
I would tell myself this everyday. All day.
How can I have depression? I thought I meditate. I do yoga. I take my vitamins. It has been nearly six months. I exercise. I cut out sugar; can’t that give you symptoms of depression?
I plaster my walls with affirmations. I read more and more self-help meditation books.
I am enlightened.
But it’s not getting better. I think, maybe this is it? Maybe this is just the way it is, you’re unable to change; this is just your personality.
I’ve always been a little hot headed, outspoken, but I saw that changing with maturity…but I think I don’t want to be this angry for the rest of my life. This is not okay.
I started imagining myself packing my bags and getting on a plane and running away.
Some days the own walls of my house were so confining I would be so anxious I would run out, a kid tucked under each arm. I would drive until I felt better.
Some days I had to force myself out of bed. I would get dressed half an hour before my husband was due home, in work out clothes no less, throw some mascara on and start dinner, coming alive, just so he didn’t know I literally stayed in my pajamas laying around all day; incapable of leaving the house, doing laundry, or vacuuming.
I just couldn’t find the energy to care.
For anyone that knows me, you’d know how off this behaviour is for me.
I am extremely motivated, I always keep to a loose schedule, I always get dressed, I always do my hair, I always do my face, I absolutely adore getting done up, I struggle to stay inside all day, usually getting out at least for the morning…but now I was asking Justin to pick things up on his way home so I didn’t have to leave.
On a particular bad day with my toddler I covered my face with my hands, palms digging into my eye sockets and I thought of my grandmother, pouring everything into her children. She had five children, each 13 months apart, one in August, September, October, November, December and then a sixth a year and a half later in June. I think of my own struggles while pregnant, the close age gap between my kids; how I could never fathom it even a month closer, how they are both so little, demanding so much from me. She had that over and over and over. That’s what happened when you’re Catholic in the sixties I guess.
I think of how she must’ve felt needing to work to support her family, yet still required to be a housewife and a stay at home mom. How she must have felt when her children were taken from her.
How she must’ve felt, her poor broken soul, how bad it had to have been, for her to take her shoes off at the edge of the Bow and walk into the water, never coming out again.
She thought her children didn’t love her anymore. Having been taken away, being mothered by someone else. She didn’t know the lady was burning her letters. She didn’t know her kids didn’t get to read how much she loved them. She didn’t know they loved her back. All she knew was the darkness in her heart; all she knew was the water was more inviting than the emptiness and crushing loneliness.
And I wept for her. I’ve felt such an intense connection, an intense love for the grandmother I never met. And now I felt an intense understanding.
I also know the end of the story.
I know my son will be that little boy pulling out a tiny mustard sweater, running his fingers over the fabric; it is ugly to anyone else, but beautiful, absolutely priceless to him because it was the only new piece of clothing he had ever received, and it was given to him by his mother. That little boy was my dad.
I know my daughter will run her fingers over my jewelry, tiny pearls and wedding rings and mala beads,
“That’s so beautiful, where’d you get it?”
“It was my mothers.”
I cried for my Grandma and all her children and all their sadness. I cried for all the people who lost their loved ones to suicide and had to feel the weight of the questions for the rest of their lives.
I took a deep breath.
I’m a writer. And I choose to rewrite the ending.
I choose to ask for help. I choose to try medication until I find one that assists me in making things right again. I choose to keep meditating, eating right and exercising because I know it will help. I choose to at least try and find the positive, the love, the light, in every situation, no matter how bad I’m feeling that day.
I choose to give myself grace for the things I cannot change, for the shortcomings I may have, but that aren’t the end of the world. I give myself grace for the days where pajamas are my attire, topknots are my hairstyle, and hotdogs are for dinner. Because that’s okay, I’m okay, and it will be okay.
I’ve accepted this hardship as an assignment for change, one that will brighten, and smooth my growing sense of self. Not something damaging, a victim, an identity. I have chosen to forgive the shitty things and instead of be angry, or sad or make it my place to make someone feel accountable. Instead, I bow my head and I say thank you.