Mama Mondays - Continuing Recovery from PPD

 I know I haven't written much about my Postpartum Depression recovery for a while now, and there's a reason. I really don't want to bum people out, heck, I don't want to bum myself out. I don't want to focus on the negative. I want to keep moving onward and upward with my life. The thing is, it's more like moving onward ... and upward and downward and zigzagward (I just made up a word).

The week after I stopped taking Zoloft, after 6 whole days of taking it, I was on some sort of natural high. I think I was just happy not to feel drugged and tired all of the time anymore! I had a sort of adrenaline rush. I exercised every day, I had a lot of energy, I was happy and optimistic, I even told my counselor that I felt like I might be close to wrapping things up with her, or not go as often and faze out. I never planned on going for too long anyway, maybe a few months, which is all it's been up to this point. I remember she looked at me and hesitated. I could tell she was hesitating. She said, "Well, let's do one more week, then we'll reevaluate." There's a reason she does this for a living.

The week after was a huge let down, like coming off of a glorious sugar high where you enjoy the sweetness of your indulgences, then come crashing down to face reality. Not to say my awesome week before was a false week, but, well, maybe it was.

That second week felt very defeating, because I realized, I was not yet 'my old self'. I really thought everything would now just be great and back to 'normal'. I didn't realize that I am in the process of creating a new 'normal' for myself and my family.

I was terrified of sliding back down to the worst I had ever felt. I never, ever wanted to reach that level of despair ever again. I haven't, and I know that the worst is far behind me now, thankfully. But I didn't then. Any time I started to feel a little sad or blue, or very sad or blue, a panic button would go off in my head, questioning, "Oh no, am I going to have a nuclear epic melt down again? Am I sliding back?"

Oddly enough, that was the week I first wrote publicly about my struggle with PPD. After writing it, that too, was a let down. My husband asked me, "What, did you think you would be Lady Liberty, waving the flag?" No, I didn't, thank you. I don't know what I thought. I know it was therapeutic for me to write about it, but I started having major, major regrets about making my struggle very public. I've admittedly had some people I know treat me differently, like I'm that 'poor crazy girl.' who can't seem to pull her shiz together yet. That's been awesome. (Note sarcasm here).

But, I realized that obviously there was no taking the initial post back and that most people have been kind to me and some have even been able to relate, which has been nice. But I think because I made it all public, I felt like there was then a part of me that had to push ahead and pretend that I was now okay. "There, I got it out of my system. Life goes on!" Wipe hands clean, and push on. This is why I really haven't written a lot about it; because I've been immersing myself in a little bit of denial.

I realized that this will continue to be a day to day recovery. It is not something that you magically just get over or that even a magic pill can fix. I'm not taking any antidepressants, which for me personally, is proving to be fine. My baby is 4 1/2 months old, 5 next week, and I feel like a lot of my energy has finally come back, physically and emotionally. I'm beginning to sleep a little bit better, which helps. But, I'm still recovering.

I've pondered again and again what it is that I'm supposed to be learning from this trial, and I've thought of a few things.

1. Dealing with PPD has forced me to be okay that everything is not and cannot be perfect, all of the time. Or really, ever.
I can be a very high strung, high maintenance, high stress person, depending on the situation. With my oldest, I was extremely scheduled and made charts of his sleeping habits, just so I knew and could have the comfort that he was really getting the sleep that he needed. I'd have a very, very hard time if we were late for his naps or bedtime, even by 15 minutes. Needless to say, it was a year filled with anxiety.

This time around though, I have had to learn to let go of a lot of my perfectionist expectations. The baby won't nap? Oh well, hopefully next nap will be better.

My house is a gigantic mess? Well, what do I expect of myself? I have a 2 year old (3 years old tomorrow!) and a newborn. Like I have the time or ability to have a clean house anymore.

I'm a fat piece of crap? No, I just had a baby, and I'm 33 years old, not 30, like last time. Even three years makes a difference, as well as having a second baby. Oh, and did I mention that I'm having children in my 30s, not 20s, like everyone and their dog here in Utah? Yeah. I'm an 'old mom' here. It's going to take a lot more time and a heck of a lot more effort this time around to get back in shape again. Dang it.

2. Increased empathy and understanding for people that struggle with depression and anxiety on a daily basis.
I've had my stages in life, just like everybody else, where I've had ups and downs. And just like some other people, I've had stages in my life of severe depression and anxiety. But this experience has honestly been one of the hardest of my life. It has given me increased empathy for people that really, truly, daily have to deal with this, for years or all of their lives. I do not know how they do it and I respect them for putting one foot in front of the other every day. The passing of Robin Williams made me so, so sad, because we all know he struggled with these things, and more. I wish more could have been done to help him, and I respect him for all that he tried to do to help himself.

3. I'm learning to be kind to myself.
I didn't fully realize just how hard this is for me to do. I don't hate myself. I actually like myself pretty well and enjoy my own company (not like I'm a weirdo or anything). But, I expect quite a lot out of myself, and when I don't fulfill my own expectations for things, I can just royally tear the crap out of myself.

It's really difficult to change years of thinking and how you talk to yourself or react to yourself when you mess up. But going through this experience has made me drastically ease up on myself. I'm learning to just allow myself to live one day at a time, one moment at a time. If one day I have a lot of energy and exercise and clean my house and make dinner and play with my kids, fantastic!! If the next day I'm doing good to just take a shower and provide care and love for my children and that's about it, that's fantastic too. I can't have a huge amount of energy or ambition or productivity every day, at least right now. I really want to. But, I can't, yet. And that's okay.

At least this is what I am trying to tell myself, because I still get trapped into the "Oh my gosh, what is wrong with me, that all I can seem to barely do is take care of myself and my kids every day, and that's it? I see people creating things, working, running marathons, taking care of other people's kids, doing a billion things. I just plain suck." 

But I know I'll get there. Maybe not the marathon part, because, let's be honest, I'm not a masochist and hate running. But the energy and productivity and creating stuff? I'll get there. It just takes time. And that's okay.

This little face is what makes it all worth it.


Comments

Kimberly said…
You're not an old mom! We have them late here in NY! I had mine at 33 and 36 (actually I day shy from being 37). It sounds like you are making really good progress. Motherhood is tough enough without PPD. Give yourself a pat on the back for all you've accompolished!
Kim at www.518nymammaof2.blogspot.com

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