I Can’t Enjoy Every Moment

[Editor’s Note: Today we have a guest post on those “moments” everyone tells you to cherish and the things we hear from other people. -Heather]

I Can't Enjoy Every Moment -postpartumprogress.com

“Enjoy every moment, won’t you?”

I offer a watery smile and nod, but inside my blood freezes and my heart pounds with the anxiety that has come to constantly plague me like an unwelcome guest. Because how can I? How can I enjoy every moment of what is hailed such a precious time when I’m so frightened I can’t even hold a conversation or cook a meal? When I’m so sad I sob my heart out several times a day? When I’m so anxious that just being in the same room as my baby causes me to sweat and shake?

“It goes by so quickly, doesn’t it?”

Every minute feels like an hour, and every hour may as well be a week. The hours before my husband arrives home stretch on like years and I wonder if I’ll make it to the end without hurting myself, or worse.

“Isn’t your heart just bursting with love and pride?”

If I could locate my heart, I’d tell you but I haven’t felt it for weeks. I can’t feel anything beyond the crippling terror and sadness. I can’t see past the horrifying, persistent images in my head of blood and pills and death.

“These are the best days of your life.”

Then why do I crave my old life, the old me, with a staggering ferocity? Why do I long for a time machine to the past when everything felt normal and right, or to the future where I pray this nightmare will be over?

“You’re just tired. Sleep when the baby sleeps and you’ll feel better.”

I can’t sleep when the baby sleeps. I can’t sleep when my husband sleeps. I can’t sleep when it’s 3am and the whole country is sleeping. If I could just switch off my brain…if I could just switch off everything.

“You need to eat something.”

Why would I put food in my mouth when I can’t breathe, can’t think, can barely speak? When I feel sick all the time. Why would I sustain my body just so my mind can keep going like this? Where is the girl who loved her food, where is she?

“You aren’t well, but you’re not alone. And you will be okay.”

I wish I could tell you that sentence alone was enough to make it all better, but it wasn’t. In fact, merely being diagnosed with Postpartum Depression and Anxiety brought a wave of panic so strong I had to call my mother-in-law to take my son for the afternoon. But it was a turning point. It was the end of that horrible chapter and the beginning of the next challenge. It was someone pulling me from the blizzard, strapping much-needed supplies on my back and standing me steady at the bottom of a mountain, ready to climb.

Enjoying every moment is impossible when you’re suffering from PPD/A. In truth, it takes lots of therapy and hard work just to enjoy a single moment. But when you do, and you will, just grab onto that flash of relief and hold it tight. Memorize it. For when the darkness slips back, that memory will make it harder for the illness to take that moment of light from you. Soon another moment will come, and another. You’ll have a rush of relief every week, then every day, then several times a day.

It will be frustrating. The mountain is high and steep and horribly intimidating. Some days you’ll be too exhausted to climb and you’ll simply collapse on the ground and cry with exhaustion and that’s okay. Because when you’re ready to get up and carry on you won’t be back at the bottom, nothing will be undone, and you can continue on your way.

Eventually, and how I wish I could tell you how long it takes, you’ll be enjoying many moments. You’ll feel again. You’ll think straight again. You’ll love again. And maybe it won’t be one glittering, wonderful moment of realization when you think, “I’m cured.” But, more likely, it will be a series of moments that creep up on you, a collection of evidence that shows you’re recovering. A few hopeful glimpses of the summit.

I have many days when I feel truly well, and I have other days when I wonder if I’m still climbing. But in the meantime, I’m living life, I’m enjoying lots of moments and not enjoying others and learning to be fine with that. Because when well-meaning people tell you to “enjoy every moment” they are setting an unrealistic goal for any parent. Many aspects of parenthood are simply not enjoyable. Instead, I focus on feeling every moment, good and bad. If I feel afraid, that’s okay, I just sit with it and let it pass. If I feel sad, I allow myself to cry. And if I feel happy I clutch that joy to my chest and absorb it into my soul, and try to keep it safe forever.

:::::

Laura is a thirty-something wife and mum from Essex, England. Following the birth of her son in 2013 she unexpectedly found herself battling Postnatal Depression and Anxiety. Reading blogs became her obsession and she’s now decided to flex her own writing muscles. You can find more of her words at https://thebutterflymother.wordpress.com and Laura can also be found on Twitter – @butterflymum83

Tell Us What You Think

Comments

  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you for speaking for all of us who’ve felt these feelings.

  2. Beautiful and perfect. 3 whole years postpartum and I’m still fighting. ALL of it. šŸ™ please tell me it gets better

    • Nickole cory says:

      It does. Everyone I know has climbed out of the hole eventually. Everyone has a different path though. I recommend finding a really good counselor. It helped me so much. And getting regular breaks from kids.

    • Thank you for reading. It DOES get better, I promise. Me, and countless others, are living proof <3

  3. Nickole cory says:

    I cringe too when I hear “it goes by so fast, you’ll miss it!” I used to cry and say things to my hubby like, “there has to be something wrong with me, I do not like this stuff!” I was always afraid. Afraid of baby getting sick, choking on a piece of toy, hair around her toe, car wreck…you name it. I was always worried. And so afraid to be a mom. I was clueless. I am still learning and wrestling with anxiety. It is all a beast ! Hardest thing I’ve done in my life. Anyway, great article. I’m sure it will shed some hope on those hurting today. šŸ˜‰ it is hard, but with help I think I made to the summit after both babies. Differing amount of help each time. And now am happier to tell about it and want to also spread the word in this terrible issue! N

    • I had postpartum anxiety which later turned into postpartum psychosis (basically I completely went crazy temporarily). One of the biggest things that helped me was taking Estrogen. My estrogen was extremely low. Also, lack of sleep contributed to the postpartum anxiety. I found a lot of hope and comfort in the Bible and Jesus as my Savior too.

    • Easily the hardest thing I’ve ever done too. Thank you for reading x

  4. You took the words straight out of my head and put them on a page in front of me – in bold – hard to swallow ….. But so incredibly reassuring. I am not alone. I am not losing my mind. One day, hopefully, I will get better. V.C. London, U.K.

    • I know, VC, it is scary in some ways to see it in black and white I know, but please know you are not alone, never alone. Many of us go through this and come out the other side. Thank you for reading x

  5. This is the main reason that I have trouble taking my son out. So many people telling me how great motherhood is, and how precious little babies are. I can’t look people in the eye, so I just look at the baby and nod a little. He’s six months old now, and with medication and therapy it is getting better, but I still don’t have the courage to do a lot of things that used to be so effortless. Those aren’t things that well wishing people seem to want to hear, so I just try to avoid being around lots of people.

    • Thankyou for reading, Kami. I know it is so, so hard to hear those words from other people, I remember the feeling well. Just try to keep in your mind that firstly, not everyone really feels that way, even if they say it, and they may be covering up for their own worries and secondly, you are 100% not alone in your thoughts – there are so very many of us who have struggled/are struggling along with you. I’m pleased to hear you’re getting better and you will continue to do so and then dealing with those situations will slowly become easier x

  6. I don’t know why but this is the first thing I’ve read that has made me think that it truly will get better eventually and I can overcome this !

  7. I have not read anything that so perfectly describes the exact thoughts and feelings I had when experiencing PPD/A after both of my pregnancies. This is so spot-on that I couldn’t help but tear up as I read it – remembering how horrible and guilty I felt to be having those thoughts. Thank you for sharing this!