Back Home Again in Indiana
May is Postpartum Depression Awareness Month so I figured now was as good a time as any to share my experience with it.
When I was still preggers, something told me I was a prime candidate for PPD so I told Jesse to watch me for the signs. He told me he would, I told him no, I’m serious – watch me for the signs. He again said he would, but I don’t think he really believed me. That poor dude.
I don’t think my case was severe, but it was bad enough that I got to spit in a tube so that’s something. I mostly remember feeling disengaged and so overwhelmed. I was taking care of Boogs, but it was more out of sheer obligation than motherly love. I would hear him wake up or cry and my stomach would drop because a) all I wanted was to sleep, b) I was convinced I would never again have time for things like laundry or lunch, and c) I knew he was hungry but sweet lady freedom did I hate breastfeeding. I would sit there feeding him while crying uncontrollably. It was during one of those sessions that Jesse suggested I call the doctor. I knew he was right, but I didn’t call. Just thinking about calling made me start crying uncontrollably. He was pretty persistent until I did call (and left a voicemail for the nurse while in tears), and I’m so glad he was because the happy pills really helped turn things around.
Jesse or I will occasionally make reference to the dark days, and then he’ll ask, “How bad was it?” I don’t know if he continually asks this because he doesn’t remember my answer or just doesn’t want to believe my answer, but those days weren’t great.
I distinctly remember dropping my sister off at the airport after Thanksgiving and thinking as I drove back home that I could just keep going; nothing said I had to go back home. Of course, I didn’t just keep going, and now I’m appalled that thought was even in my head. I can’t imagine just abandoning Boogs (or Jesse), but that’s what PPD does – it makes you think crazy things.
I also remember Jesse telling me in the first week we had Boogs home (it may have been the first 24 hours), “You’re thinking we made a mistake, aren’t you?” And although I didn’t have the nerve to admit it out loud to him, yes, that’s exactly what I was thinking. It now kills me to think that I ever thought that because I’m so unbelievably attached this kid. Hell, I was unbelievably attached to him when he was still on the inside; Boogser was one million percent a wanted baby so it’s mind boggling to me that I could ever have a thought like that. But again, that’s what PPD does – it makes you think crazy things.
PPD told me having a baby was a mistake. PPD told me it would never get better; that I would forever be living my life in this dark hole where everything is terrible all the time. PPD told me so many things that weren’t true because, as Jenny Lawson says, that’s what depression does; it lies. But it doesn’t have to win.
I’m an entirely different person now than I was in those early days. I now take care of Boogs way more out of motherly love than sheer obligation, I (like a fool) turn down Jesse’s offers to spend a night in a hotel so I can sleep for hours upon hours because I can’t imagine being away from Boogser for that long, and I now know that those days where I feel like a failure of a human are always going to happen, but they won’t last forever.
This isn’t an easy post for me to share, but it’s an important one. So many women suffer from PPD, and so many of them do it in silence for no reason other than fear. The world tells us that we should be feeling pure joy after popping out a kid so when we don’t, we’re convinced there’s something wrong with us and keep our mouths shut for fear of the judgement that would follow saying something. So if this post leads to just one woman saying something about the dark place she’s in, then the tears I’m fighting back while writing this will have been worth it.