“No, I’m not here about that.” I quickly change the subject and explain little miss and my symptoms. We’ve been right to visit. It’s a round of antibiotics for both of us.
But the doctor isn’t finished. “So, how are you doing?”
I’m caught off guard. This isn’t something I want to talk about today. “Things are fine. Yeah. Well, things are tough but that’s to be expected. Right? I mean, she’s little, and there’s the job stuff and being so far from home like I’ve explained before. Soooo I’m…fine….all things considered. I’m doing okay.” My eyes betray me. I can feel them glistening with fresh tears.
My doctor turns to my husband, and asks him how I’m doing. His apologetic look says it all. “From the outside, she’s doing fine but she’s really good at masking.” He pauses. “Since she keeps it all in all day, I see her at her worst.” Another long pause and a look at the doctor. She answers for him. “Not well then.”
I glaze over in the next bit as it’s all things I’ve heard before: reassurance that this is normal, that there is no set time on how long it takes to recover, that is not something I’ve done or forgotten to do. It is an illness and, like a lot of others, it will not get better over night. I leave the doctor’s office with a list of books and websites that may help me in the right direction.
I’ve lost that list. I may have accidentally (on purpose?) thrown it out. Truth is, I was so pissed off after that appointment that I was determined to suck it up, deal with the fact that motherhood is not easy, and get over it. I am embarrassed, guilty, sad, angry to admit that this was just a few weeks ago, OVER A YEAR since I started getting help for this. I’m still on anti-depressants but this was supposed to be because I’ve been too lazy to go up to the doctor and begin decreasing my prescription not because I wasn’t better. (you can’t just quit them cold turkey but I’ll save the why’s and how’s for the professionals to explain) I’m working, my daughter is happy, my husband and I laugh together and I’ve even managed to be social again. Come on now, with so much that goes on with raising a baby, surely my struggles are normal at this point!
Okay okay, I know that’s not all that’s going on. Months ago I stopped being honest with how I was feeling in terms of being a mom. While most of the reactions I got were from true empathy, I got so sick of the looks of pity and plastic smiles. All this did was reinforce how fragile I was. (am?) Besides, trying to function was impossible with my emotions getting in the way all the time. I hit survival mode and steeled all that baggage away. I thought I’d found the magical solution. Dwelling on all these feelings was just making me a sappy mess and who needs it? Sure my creative side thrives on me letting that part of my brain do the driving but for now, the practical, technical, logical side seems to be getting things done just fine.
It wasn’t until my doctor asked me how I was doing that it all crumbled. I have to admit I’m surviving but I’m also in denial. I had post natal depression. I’ve come to terms with that. I still have post-natal depression. Coming to terms with that is what I need to work on. Covering it up may let me function but not dealing with it means it’s not going away. Since talking about it means facing those empathetic looks and touchy-feely conversations, I’m not willing to try that again yet. But exploring my thoughts seems like a good way to get to the bottom of it. See, there’s another thing I must admit. I know it’s not something I did or one factor that caused me to develop this stupid flipping, why won’t it go away illness, but I haven’t accepted it. Not really. Any other challenge I’ve ever had has been conquered by hard work and determination. Why can’t it work with this? (see what I’m battling here?)
So here I am. Hearing other people’s experiences with post natal depression was the thing that helped me most when I was really struggling so I want to share mine in hopes I can help others in a similar place. However, I also still need help myself. I need to face up to these feelings and writing about it will force me to do it. I still need to hear that it’s okay that I sometimes I still feel like I’m a worthless mother, that I feel like I’ve failed professionally and at home, that some days I really don’t want to be a mom at all, that when I drop low, I often drop scarily low and become detached like I’m back in those first few weeks. I want to hear that I am not alone, that others feel this way, that they find this journey long and hard, that some have been in my shoes and have come out the other side. It’ll take a bit for me to ease into spilling my guts but I’ll get there, that’s the plan. So please read and please comment but be gentle. I’m new at this.