Over the past 8 months or so, my emotions have been a roller coaster. There have been slow ascents, and deep valleys and sudden, rushing downward spirals. I remember when Samantha was maybe 4 weeks old, crying to my friend Dr. Nadene on the phone. I almost couldn’t breathe or speak, just telling her how I felt like life would never be the same, and would I ever be able to have FUN again? (I did not get the “high” that many new mothers speak of…I wish I had, but I didn’t.) The responsibility of raising a child had hit my like a freight train, and I felt like the weight of the world was on my shoulders. Mine alone. Yes, I had a supportive husband who helped in whatever way I needed. It’s just that he wasn’t there during the day, and he needed to get up early in the morning, so I typically did all the night feedings. He wanted to help, but didn’t always know how to help, and so I often wound up doing many things myself. (or at least feeling like I did)
That has since changed. He willingly and happily does feedings and bathtime and generally whatever I need help with. (Except laundry…for some reason, I do all that. It’s a control thing. As in, he in no way has the skill to appropriately put clothes in the washer and add soap and turn it to on.) Yes, of course, there are things that I would LIKE to be done, but I also don’t help myself in those situations. Sometimes it is all I can do to feed and put Sam to sleep, everything else just seems to be overwhelming. (which is why my house is the definition of clutter right now) (leaving town every weekend is not helping at this point…but that won’t stop us) We are enjoying life right now, and if some things fall to the wayside, so be it. We try to spend as much time with our little girl as possible.
A few weeks ago, I realized that things were not right. I just wasn’t happy. And I am not talking about over the moon happy, or even not happy with my life happy. I mean, hard to get out of bed, anything could push me over the edge, HATING myself unhappy. On the outside, I smiled and joked with people at work, although I did definitely try to hide in my cubicle. Certain things just overwhelmed me, and I would shut down. Nothing made me happier than NOT getting out of bed. But I had to, day in, day out. I was talking to my good friend who has an infant as well, and I was telling her how I felt, and she said, “Oh Gail, you are making me sad.” Meaning, she was sad for me, that I was feeling the way I did. And THAT was my AH-HA moment. My friend, who was so infinitely happy about her child, was sad because of me. That? Was fucked up. So I went to my doctor, and he put me on the new medicine Pristiq. And you know what? It is helping. I can get out of bed in the morning, I smile more readily, and I look forward to the future.
So I was talking recently to a friend, one of those friends who you really don’t talk to very often, but you are kind of in the same place in life and will occasionally run into, and so you talk. The subject turned to baby blues and depression. I readily shared that I was on Pristiq. I am not ashamed of it, and I am happy that it is helping. I don’t think that there is anything wrong with taking medicine if you need it, and when it comes to depression, science has proven that genetics and hormones and chemical imbalances are the culprit. Yes, sometimes life circumstances become too much, and you need a little help to get through a rough patch, but more often, you were probably predisposed to depression. It’s not like it is something that you can help, that you have control over. Sometimes, folding that load of laundry is just. too. difficult.
It was my friend’s response to my admission that caught me off guard. Maybe it was the wording, maybe it was the tone. It went something like, “So what’s wrong?” As in, what is so wrong with your life that you feel the need to medicate yourself? This question really caught me off guard. Sure, my life isn’t perfect. But no one’s is. That isn’t why I felt myself spiraling. The mix of hormones and life change sometimes makes people’s emotions go down…not up. And when they stay down, for more than a couple of weeks, it is time to get some outside help.
Being diagnosed with depression, for some, is a relief. It helps to explain things. And the doctors will tell you that it isn’t your fault, it isn’t something that you can control. In fact, for some people, when a doctor asks the questions and then says, “I think you are depressed”, the natural response is, “Well duh.” However, that doesn’t mean you don’t feel as though you have failed. Failed in what, who knows. Life, I guess. But therein lies the stigma of depression. You can’t will yourself well when you get depressed. You need help. Help to learn how to deal with life and also help to control what is going on inside you.
Eight months after I had my daughter, and 5 ½ months after I have gone back to work, I feel like life is starting to normalize. I have a beautiful baby that any mother would be happy to parent, a great home and a wonderful husband. We both have jobs, and cars, and can put food on the table. I can finally start to feel the joy that everyone else talks about. Finally!! (And maybe, just maybe, some day soon, I’ll get my house organized. But don’t hold your breath. I don’t know if there are ANY drugs that strong.)