[Editor’s Note: Today’s guest post comes from an anonymous mother who wanted to share where she is in her journey. It’s an important piece because we so often only hear about the “after,” the success stories. This mom is still in the midst of figuring out where to go. This is her story. -Jenna]
I wasn’t going to get postpartum depression. It is not something a girl like me gets! I have always been described as strong, independent, hilariously funny. I’ve never been the girl in the corner, the one with the problems, the one crying. Don’t get me wrong, my life hasn’t been a fairy tale. I have gone through some tough times, but I have always just picked myself up, brushed myself off (literally on occasions), and got going again.
Despite some serious setbacks in my time—and I am talking about ones that would take down the most strong of people—I have also been blessed with a supportive family, some amazing opportunities, a fantastic education, and something I thought maybe wasn’t going to be something for me, Miss Independent: a guy to love.
I realized something was wrong on my 30th birthday. The sun was shining, the house and garden were full of friends and family, and there was delicious food on the table and cold champagne in the fridge. I was five months pregnant with my first child. My husband was topping up everyone’s glasses. Anyone looking around must have thought I had it all. One friend even told me she did.
And yet I felt so alone.
I thought no one would even notice if i wasn’t there; they were mostly my husband’s friends really…
The next few months were bad. My husband and I started arguing, I distanced myself from friends. My family started questioning what was wrong. I was having horrific nightmares leaving me afraid to go to sleep. Everything felt like it was falling apart. During a time that should have been so full of joy and excitement, I just wanted it all to stop.
My son’s birth was horrific. Everything that could go wrong did, and so my already messed up life and low mood got hit even harder. With tubes down my nose, serious pain, and sickness, I had none of the fairy tale high of giving birth: No instant love for the little bundle of joy in my arms, no husband glowing with pride by my side, no family photos and hugs. Everything just felt sad. I felt like I had yet again let everyone down by putting them through all the stress of seeing me so ill. This is how irrational depression is! I actually blamed myself for nearly dying in childbirth!
Some people say happiness is a simple equation between your expectations and your reality. If your reality beats your expectations then you are happy. So when my husband talks about being unhappy, I instantly blame myself for not living up to his expectations, because depression makes all the bad stuff my fault.
My old self would say, “We are in this together and I love you, so let’s make things better and get happy!” I find myself saying, “I’m sorry I’m such a disappointment to you.” In a sarcastic tone which inevitably starts an argument.
My husband and I went to a friend’s wedding; the expectation is a wonderful day. One where he and I look at each other during the ceremony, remembering our wedding, silly banter with friends, dancing and laughing. The reality was me almost cancelling 100 times as I can’t face the idea of putting make up on and going out. The reality was me sitting in total sadness during the ceremony feeling I have let him down as we were so happy when we got married and I have ruined it all. The reality was me feeling like he would be better off at the wedding alone.
I saw him chatting to a girl at the party. In the old days, I wouldn’t be jealous (not my style). I would more think that of course the girl wants him; he is awesome, but he loves me and I am the lucky girl that goes home with him at the end of the night. The new me thinks he would be better off with her.
This is not the person I want to be, this is not the relationship I want to have, this is not the life I want. But every day is a battle. It is though I am sitting back and watching myself destroy my life. And I used to think it was so simple: If you are not happy with something change it, if you are feeling depressed then kick yourself up the pants and cheer up.
Now I feel like an idiot because truthfully, when you are depressed, it takes every ounce of strength just to get up, get dressed and do something with the day, let alone rebuild and make things better.
So what happens from here? I can see two options. Depression wins or I do. And I really, really hope that I do.
I can fight this and get back to my old self. Maybe I will even find a better version of myself because of this fight. Maybe my husband will start to look at me like I’m the best thing in the world like he used to, and maybe I will start to believe him again.
I have a new found respect and understanding for mental illness. It is real, it is crippling, and currently it is overwhelming. If you have had postpartum depression and beaten it, I salute you. But if there is one bit of my old strength still left, I will be fight this. One day at a time with everything I have got. And I will win.
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