Having a baby can be hard. Maintaining a writing career is a delicate balance. Now, add onto that a willful 5 year old, a husband at college, thousands of dollars of medical expenses debt from having the baby, and finally hormones out of whack, and bam, you have the perfect recipe for postpartum depression.
So I really don’t want this to come across as a woe is me post. No, not even close. I think it’s something that needs to be addressed, as I doubt I’m not the only person out there with these struggles.
PPD is real, very real. Like any depression, it can’t just be a choice to get over it. Every day I feel isolated and alone. Everyday, I struggle to wake up in the morning and do the things I need to do. Usually I’m a highly motivated person, I wake up before my kids to get things done, shower, write. But lately I struggle to get out of bed to feed my 5yo breakfast.
I struggled with all my might not to feel this way again. The problem is, it’s hormonal, then add in the above complications and I am worse this time than what I was with my previous baby, even though this baby is much, much easier. It’s almost as if I can feel people judging me, like why can’t you handle two when other people have five, six…
I also feel bad for feeling this way because I struggled so hard with my fertility and health to get baby in the first place. It’s like I shouldn’t feel like this because I’ve been given a miracle.
But I do, and it sucks.
I want to give an example. Usually on Saturdays I’m up at 7:30 to cram some writing in before the hubby and kiddos wake up. Recently on one Saturday, I dragged my butt out of bed at 10 because the baby wanted to be fed. I wake up every day with a headache, and it only gets worse with the baby crying and the other kid talking to me.
I wanted to get out of the house because I was feeling stressed and depressed, and as the hubby took his shower, and I nursed while trying to entertain kid 1 who refused to eat her breakfast, I started to tear up. Thoughts like “You aren’t cut out for this. These kids are going to break you. They deserve so much better than you” filled my mind. I looked around at the living room at the laundry I hadn’t put away, the dishes that hadn’t been done, and the toys everywhere, right as the baby puked on my fresh, clean clothes, and I’m nothing but discouraged. I seriously considered walking out the door and driving off without looking back. But I couldn’t because we had no money, because I had a baby and now we’re in thousands of dollars of debt which started to roll over into collections.
Everything was snowballing, and I wanted to break. But I couldn’t, because I’m the one who is keeping things together somehow.
When the hubby came out from the shower, he saw my distress and said, “Why don’t we give the kids to the grandparents for a couple of hours and just hang out?”
I literally burst into tears. The thought alone soothed my pounding head. But they couldn’t take the kids, and I had to cry again because I was stuck with them. Then I felt guilty about wanting to get away from my children.
Hubby did get me out, with the kids, yes, but at least I’m out of the house. But that night, he went out with his friend for a game night. I barely keep it together as I dreaded the prospect of giving the kids dinner, baths, and putting them to bed–normal routine things. When I went into kid 1’s bedroom, I found something that did make me lose it: she has deliberately broken one of the toys she got a week earlier. I’m ashamed to say I made her cry as I took all her toys away from her, yelling at her, and telling her to get to bed because I don’t want to see her again for the rest of the night. It was the best I could do considering the violent feelings that pushed to the surface. An hour later, I was sobbing from guilt because I felt like that and I made her cry.
The point is, this isn’t me. I’m pretty chilled out naturally. Yeah, since having my strong willed child my patience is much shorter, but it still take a lot to make me feel anything more than mellow, to pretty happy. I like to make people laugh, see people smile, and lift people’s spirits when they’re down. PPD makes me a completely different person.
Because of this, my writing suffers. Instead of finding the positives, seeing the people who enjoy my work, I only see the trolls and the negative criticism. I take it to heart, and I hate every word I write, or have already written and released through a publisher–which means an editor liked it enough to believe it would sell. I become ashamed to promote my work, and I feel like pulling the plug on everything.
Luckily, I have enough of my own sense to fight on. I know I’ll get over this in time, so despite my self-loathing, I don’t let the depression beat me. I won’t. It’s crazy hard, and I have internal battles where I just have to physically keep away from my computer so I don’t do something stupid, but I hold onto the fact that this will pass. But also recently, I agreed to start medication. The difference that made was almost immediate and profound! I finished a work I’d been struggling over for over a year, and the writer’s block burst open!
Despite all the thoughts and doubts and feelings that still go through me, I cling tight to that ball of hope, because it’s the only thing I can do. I still struggle with my moods and stress, but things are getting easier, and I want other to know they’re not alone, and there’s nothing shameful about seeking help. In fact, help can be incredibly liberating!