I Let My Guard Down
| by Anonymous |
Postpartum depression always scared the crap out of me. I was paranoid that I would be the mother you read about in the news who harmed her own child. Growing up in a volatile environment, I knew what dealing with a mother with mental issues was like and I didn’t want to subject my son to the same situation.
Towards the end of my third trimester I started succumbing to depression. I was huge, tired, and lonely with my husband always being at work. The fact that it was a long, hard winter didn’t help. I knew this, along with the history of mental illness in my family, put me at a higher risk for postpartum depression. With this knowledge, I became vigilant about monitoring my mood and thoughts. At the first sign of change, I was going to head to the doctor.
While in the hospital after having my son, I took the depression screening test and, not surprisingly, scored relatively high. Because of this, the hospital had someone call me a few weeks after delivery, then again a few months after that. It was nice, between their support, and my ultra vigilance, I felt like I was playing the offense.
Once my son reached about three months, I started to relax. I thought the hardest time was over and I hadn’t felt very depressed since before delivering. I had a happy baby and a new job that better suited my needs as a new mom; life was grand.
Then, just as soon as I let my guard down, wham! I started feeling depressed. I cried when my son wouldn’t go to sleep right away. I thought about just shaking him many times when I was holding him. (I promise, I didn’t though!)
One night when he was having a bad night, he just wouldn’t stay asleep when I laid him in his crib. Every time I picked him up he fell asleep and this annoyed me. I had a million things to do and couldn’t get them done. As I stood there holding him, I just pictured letting him roll out of my arms and onto the floor. And for a few split seconds, the thought didn’t even bother me.
The thought lasted for only a few seconds, but when it passed I knew something was wrong. I loved that little boy more than anything in the world, how could I think something like that? I laid him in his bed and stood in his room crying, not knowing what to do. I started thinking about my mood over the last few weeks and realized, I really am depressed.
I created the perfect storm for postpartum depression. The husband was working overtime, so I was left to take care of the kid before and after work, mostly alone. I started a new job and was trying to get acclimated. I let my guard down, thinking if I were going to get PPD it would have come by now. Together, it was the perfect environment for something to go wrong.
And now, I’m stuck in that situation. I don’t have insurance for a month with the job change, but I know I need help. I can’t tell my husband because he is stressed out enough over work. I’m afraid to tell my friends. Why? I don’t even know. I know I’m depressed. I know something is wrong. But now I don’t have the courage or the means to fix the problem that I was once so prepared for.
Update: April 2015
For a while, things seemed better again. The husband’s overtime slowed, I settled into my job, the baby was in a routine, life seemed relatively simple and I thought I was enjoying it. Yet, there was still something.
My heart ached. My boy was growing up. I was missing it being a working mom. I wasn’t putting enough effort in at work. My husband didn’t love me. I was still fat from the baby weight.
It all piled up. And I didn’t deal with it. Every time I thought about my boy being away from me and growing up, my heart literally ached. Where had the year gone? Why had he spent more of it with the sitter than with his mom? It was my fault for not being a stay at home mom. It was my husband’s fault for not making enough money. Heart ache.
My husband didn’t love me. If he did he would provide more and be more motivated so I could raise our child and not send him to the sitter’s house. Plus, I was fat. Who would want that? It was my fault he didn’t love me. I didn’t push him enough. I didn’t give him what he needed. Heart ache.
My son is now a year old and these thoughts still run through my head. I know they’re not right, but I can’t work up the courage to fix them. Some days are great and I’m living the perfect life. Then there are times when the heart ache is physical chest pain and won’t go away. Sometimes the thoughts are fleeting, other days my emotions stay for a while before changing.
What can I do? I have insurance again but I don’t want to risk my job. I don’t want to tell my husband. I don’t want my family to know. Plus, as my son is over a year old, isn’t it to late to be PPD?
Update: August 2015
I’m hoping this is the last update. I’m writing the updates because they seem to help. It helps me see where I’ve been and how far I’ve come.
It was a long, rough summer. It started on a grand note with a nice family vacation. But that was about the only positive. My husband’s grandma got sick. His uncle got sick. His grandpa got sick. The travel at work was piling on. His overtime wasn’t slowing down. Our bills we’re piling up. I had painfully cut ties with my mother.
His grandma was diagnosed as terminal. His uncle went to the nursing home. His grandpa was in the hospital, but recovering. The travel back and forth between home and our hometown was constant. It’s not much more than an hour one way, but doing it every week makes it hard, especially with a toddler in tow.
But through it all, I didn’t feel dark and down. Sad, yes. Depressed, I don’t think so. I think I finally found my footing and a solid routine before it all started so I was able to be the support that my little family needed. I was there for them when they were alone.
As the season changes I’m feeling even better. His grandma passed and is now at rest. His grandpa is home and doing well. His uncle is working through rehab. The travel at work finally slowed.
The storms are weakening. Sure, the husband is still working way too much overtime and the bills are still behind, but I feel like I can conquer this. I’m going into the fall with the mindset all the old is passing, soon we will see new.
I am able to cope with the loss of my mother. I am able to handle the surprises that get thrown your way when you have a toddler. I am able to be the strong shoulder for my husband while he grieves.
My favorite season is coming and I feel invigorated from the smell of the harvest. I’ve waded through so much to get here, now I’m hoping to reap the reward of peace and maybe a little relaxation.