“I feel like I just can’t keep up,” I told Reid a couple months ago. I felt like I was drowning under the weight of responsibility. “I could just get in the car and drive away.” I knew having a newborn was tough and demanding, physically and emotionally, but I had never experienced this sense of being completely and utterly overwhelmed.
I tried to write this post months ago…I wrote those first few words at the beginning of April but I was still too deep in the black hole that is post partum depression and anxiety that it was just too much for me to articulate at the time. I’m getting help and I’m climbing out now. It’s a slippery hike; sometimes I feel like I’m almost to the top, maybe I even have an arm over the ledge, only to slip back down a couple feet. But I am moving forward and I hold on to that. Here’s a little of my story.
I started to feel like I was really losing my grip when I completely broke down over a dirty table. It seemed like every time I turned around the table was dirty again. As I was washing it for what seemed like the hundredth time that day, the tears came and I just sat on the steps and cried and cried. Crying wasn’t unusual at that point because I think I did it everyday, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was slowly sinking. Someone always needed my attention and it seemed like I was always being pulled in a million different directions. My chest would get tight and it felt like I couldn’t take a full breath. My to-do list would run through my head constantly as I frantically raced around, but yet didn’t really accomplish anything.
Matilda needed to be changed and was whining that she was hungry again even though she just ate. Oliver was crying, needing to be changed and fed too. The dirty dishes still sat in the sink from two days ago and the laundry piles rivaled Everest in size. The floor needed to be swept, toys picked up, beds made, dinner started…but there really wasn’t anything to make because I needed to get groceries, again. The bills needed to be paid. I really needed to shower because when was the last time I did that? And I was starving. Oh, and the table was dirty. Again.
Now, these are obviously all basic daily tasks that anyone would do in a normal day but on the bad days it felt like I was trying to carry the weight of the world. There were days that I could look at things rationally and tell myself, just wash the stupid table…what’s the big deal? But most days I couldn’t. And as I was rushing around in a frenzy, I was so angry. Always angry. Slamming cupboards and doors, yelling at my kids, stomping around in rage, and always on edge.
My poor husband and children. Here I had this sweet new baby boy and all I saw when I looked at him was more work to do. I feel like an awful mother just writing that but sadly it’s the truth. I put this note into my phone back in April and it’s a glimpse of where I was:
This was supposed to be one of the best times of my life…getting to know our son, watching Matilda fit into her role as the big sister. And all I wanted to do was escape from it all. It was too much. I remember seeing a comment on a picture of someone else’s new baby on Facebook and it said, “doesn’t your heart just feel so full?” Even though the question wasn’t for me, it played through my mind over and over again and all I could do was cry out silently, no! No, it doesn’t! It should, but it doesn’t. What kind of mother am I? To look at this sweet new life and not be bursting with love? To see only the ‘needing’ and feel only the exhaustion?
I had a breakdown on the phone with my sister and she was the one that brought up the possibility of post partum depression (PPD). I started researching it and soon realized that that was probably what was going on. I met with my doctor and he agreed that it sounded like PPD and offered to write a prescription for an anti-depressant. At that point, I was having a decent week so I declined the medication and said I would keep an eye on how I was feeling. I started taking lots of vitamins and natural supplements to see if that would help me get back on track to feeling more like myself. Whenever Reid was home he would help me to get somewhat caught up with whatever needed to be done and I felt like I was getting better.
Unfortunately, the stretch of good days came to an end and things started to go downhill again. One evening at dinner Matilda dropped a meatball on the floor and I could’ve punched a hole in the wall. The littlest things would make me snap and I just felt out of control. I was at the end of my rope and we were all suffering.
A friend called me that same week and told me her story about struggling with PPD. I just sat there on the phone with tears streaming down my face because she knew. She knew my story without me even having to tell it because she had been there only months before. And she was saying, “yes, this is real…very real. But you can get help and get better.” I told her something that I hadn’t been able to voice before. The scary reality of how there were times that I was just so overwhelmed and it seemed like I could never possibly catch up with my long list of responsibilities that the thought would come into my head when I was driving that it would really be so much easier to just drive off the road. I could quickly push that thought away as being ridiculous but her response was a wake up call:
“But what happens when you can’t?”
I called for a prescription that afternoon.
That was a month ago. I’m so glad I can say that I’m on the road to healing. I know I have a long road ahead but the very bad days are slowly slipping behind me. I’m not always angry. The days are still long and tiring with a baby and a toddler but I’m not consumed by exhaustion. I can snuggle with Oliver and feel proud to be his mama. I can laugh at Matilda’s silly antics and quips. I can communicate with Reid instead of silently fuming. Sometimes the house is neat and organized but mostly it’s not and I can handle that. I can clean the table when it’s dirty.
Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness
I’m getting my life back.
And my heart is full.
Photo Credit: Dara Sikkila Photography