Warning, this post deals with depression, it’s long and not at all amusing
When my daughter, Question, was born it was the best day of my life. We sailed through labor and delivery, she was completely healthy, she was beautiful. Breastfeeding was going great. All was well with the world. For about a week.
The days that followed were very, very dark.
I had heard a little bit about postpartum depression while I was pregnant. I had heard about the Andrea Yates tragedy. I knew that it happened to some women, but in the midst of the hormonal high I was on those last month or two of pregnancy, I thought “Not I!”
In retrospect, I had a lot of the risk factors. I had no social support, because we were half a country away from our family. It was a surprise pregnancy. We had issues in our marriage. And I have a strong family, and personal, history of depression.
But at the time, I didn’t know that. At the time, all I knew was that I wanted to crawl into bed, and not wake up.
The Man was in the Corps at the time, and he had 24hr shifts. One on, one off. He was working a horribly stressful job of his own. On the days that he was gone, I didn’t leave the bedroom, much less the apartment.
I felt like the walking dead. I was on auto-pilot. My daughter was the only thing that could rouse me from lying on my side, staring at the wall.
Trash piled up. Dishes were not done. Hell, if it couldn’t be made in the microwave, I wasn’t up to making it. I subsisted off of cold cereal and ramen noodles, because that was all the effort I could stand to put into cooking.
Laundry never got done until we were about to be running naked. Not that it mattered much to me. I spent most of my time in pajamas. The same pajamas for days.
But I didn’t know what was wrong with me. Why wasn’t I a better mother and wife? Why didn’t I even care?
The Man has said that he was worried, but that 1)he didn’t know how bad it was on the inside, and 2)he wasn’t sure if it was normal newborn baby overload, or something more.
We were both completely unprepared for my mental shutdown.
I have to be honest. I still don’t know what pulled me through. I never did get help. I didn’t even recognize it as postpartum depression until a few years ago, when I struggled with it again after the birth of our son.
I know that about six months after Question’s birth, I was finally coherent enough to go job searching. And I know that having that job forced me to be out of the house. It forced me to interact with people, and shower and such. After that, things started to look up.
But the only thing that forced me to face each day during that hellish period, was Question. She was dependent on me to function at least that much. There were days where the only thing keeping me from slitting my wrists, was the fact that I didn’t want to leave the baby alone until The Man got home.
I regret not realizing that I needed help. I regret those wasted months where I barely existed. I regret that I was not as good of a mother as I could have been. But I am so thankful that we managed to survive that time.
And I hope that if someone is sitting there, and recognizes themselves or someone they love in this post, that you will make an effort to get help. Please. Call the PostPartum Depression Hotline (1.800.944.4PPD) if you even suspect that you or a loved one is suffering. They will help you find resources in your area, to get you through this.