Let's Get Real
So it's been a while since I last wrote. I had planned on writing every day but that clearly did not happen. This post is going to be quite personal as I address something that I don't talk to people about other than a select few; but this is part of life for so many that I'm giving my experience. Maybe it'll help someone else with what they're going through.
Over the last month or so, I've been dealing with postpartum depression. Depression is something that I've dealt with for most of my life and the doctors told me to pay attention to how I'm feeling leading up to and after I gave birth. I was told that postpartum depression can hit months to years after giving birth. Well it's taken it's hold on me and I let it get the best of me this past month and am now trying to shake it off. It has been an extreme struggle to get myself to do anything; eating, drinking, showering, cleaning, making food and so many other things have been so difficult to actually do. I've just been laying on the couch or on the floor with Josh all day every day, which in turn, has made me feel like even more of a failure of a mom for not giving my son wonderful and meaningful interactions. I have even been having our groceries delivered so I wouldn't have to go out of the house.
About five days ago, I started making myself take Josh for a walk in the afternoon/evening (when he's the most fussy) and managed to actually to do that every day! Surprisingly (or not) I felt so much better once I got outside and got even a little bit of light exercise by walking to the park to push Josh in the swing and then walking around the neighborhood. Some mornings I'll walk to a bakery for scones or a cafe for some tea. Getting outside for 20 minutes to an hour was the first step for me to shake off my not so great feelings. Showering was the next step (I know, gross)! But it's the truth...When you get so low, you don't want to do anything. Showering and walking picked me up pretty well and then I decided that I really should clean the house (having Josh scooting all over and family coming to stay with us this next week are another factor to feeling the need to clean). Well after I was clean, the house was clean and I was exercising, I realized that I really should actually make some food and plan ahead for meals like I had been doing. So now I'm to the stage of figuring out meals that I would like to make over the next 1-2 weeks and making a shopping list where I will actually go out to buy these groceries. I'm going to have to plan time where I can meal prep during the day and on the weekends so that when I get caught up with Josh, we suddenly don't have any food to eat.
I went into such a dark place that I wasn't quite sure what to do. I couldn't make myself do anything helpful or useful for me or my family. Matt, Josh, the animals, the house and myself were all getting the bare minimum from me. Since this is something that I've lived with for the past 17 years (probably longer but that's when I was "diagnosed"), I'm very good at knowing when I'm going to have more trouble with my depression. I know when I need to reach out to start taking medication (I hate admitting when I need it but I do know when that time comes). I had just come off of medication right when I got pregnant with Josh, which made me happy since I didn't want to be on any meds while pregnant. Medicine is like a rollercoaster; I'll need it for a bit, then taper off and not need anything for months to years and then back to needing some. I feel defeated when I reach the point where I know medication is needed but it's something that helps.
I was able to avoid needing medicine or even talking to a psychologist by forcing myself to actually do normal daily chores when I felt myself sinking deeper and deeper into the pit. I found pen pals to write to (both friends that I already know and women from other countries that I've never met), I go outside daily to show Josh the world that God has made, I actually shower, I'm getting better at eating and drinking (still a work in progress), I clean the house almost daily and deep clean weekly (which is very relaxing and therapeutic for me). I still might need some extra help from a medical professional but for the time being, self care is working.
This is a topic that people never used to talk about but is becoming much more normal. It's still difficult for some people to see depression as a true medical issue but the idea that people are just acting or pretending to get attention is luckily going away. If you're feeling down and want to talk to someone who truly understands how you're feeling, I'm all ears. I won't judge you for thoughts, feelings or actions. Chances are I've gone through what you are. You aren't alone.
This song came on as I finished writing this post and it's honestly so fitting.
Tell Your Heart to Beat Again by Danny Gokey