***This is a very real and raw glimpse into the mind of someone who has gone through PPD or postpartum anxiety. This post is not encouraging, uplifting or inspiring. I didn’t write it for anyone, I wrote it as a way to start to process what I’ve been through over the last year and get some of my thoughts out. I’m sharing because I want anyone who has felt these things to know they are not alone.***
This has been the best year of my life in so many ways. It’s also been the hardest year of my life.
I’ve been delighting in watching her grow and change and become more adorable as the months go by. I’ve also wanted nothing more than for this year to hurry the hell up and be over already.
I’ve been amazed, overjoyed, and satisfied. Yet I have been angry, anxious, desperate and not myself.
I haven’t felt like myself all year, and I don’t know if I ever will again. The girl I used to know before this year is nowhere to be found, and I’m not sure she’ll ever turn up. Perhaps she’s gone for good.
It’s true – I’m not who I used to be. Having a baby will do that to you. You become a completely different person, don’t recognize yourself, wonder if your old self just might still be hidden in there somewhere, but if she is – you’ll never find her, and you don’t have the energy or drive to even try.
On average, I get about 4 hours of sleep per night – and not consecutively. Those hours are broken up into 1 or maybe 2 at a time. In the beginning, I was able to press through while holding onto the hope of what everyone kept saying: “Babies start to sleep through the night after a few months – don’t worry.”
She never did. She still hasn’t ever slept through the night.
She eats plenty of solids. Is perfectly healthy and active. Yet she doesn’t sleep.
I dread the nights. I hate the nights. The nights are when all the desperation, anxiety, rage, and darkness come up out of me like they’re the most dominant trait I have. I scream into my pillow. I pound my mattress. I scare myself. I don’t like the person I am at night. That person is angry, terrifying, desperate for reprieve.
“Just one night, please!” I beg God to let me have one night. One break. I need relief. I am desperate for rest. I don’t know how much longer this season will last – after all, what about all of the parents who have told me their children didn’t sleep through the night until well over two or three years old?
I can’t take this. I scream every night, “I can’t do this anymore!”
My physical need for sleep, my mental need for rest and my emotional need for relief are too much, too loud, too strong, and I break. I shatter into a million pieces. Surely this isn’t supposed to be this hard. I must be a weak, wimpy, fragile woman.
What a pathetic excuse for a mom – someone who can’t even handle a few months of sleepless nights.
I find myself in shock when I hear of someone having their second child. I’m shocked that they’re going for a second round of this. When I see another pregnancy announcement, I shudder inside. “I can’t believe they’re doing this again.” I can’t imagine myself ever getting to the place where I’m ready for another baby. This year has taken its toll on me. It’s done me in. If this year and I have been in a wrestling match, I’ve been lying on the ground since month 2. Not even fighting anymore. Just completely defeated in every way.
I feel sorry for my husband, who is no longer married to the same girl he held hands with up at the altar 3 years ago. That girl was happy, funny, and could intelligently and coherently share her thoughts and opinions. She was vibrant and loved life. She was full of energy, goals, dreams. She was well put together, had great hair, always did her makeup just right, and – dare I say – still had her sexy. Her clothes fit, and she was healthy.
My husband is now married to a woman who is unpredictable, emotional, occasionally happy but mostly stoic and apathetic. She has lost her sense of humor, is constantly anxious and worried, and can barely speak in a cohesive manner. She lives in constant survival mode. She’s like a ticking time bomb – you never know what is going to set her off and make her explode. She’s exhausted, frumpy, never does her hair, and always has bags under her eyes. She only wears lounge clothes and even those are just a bit too tight. She has aged about 10 years in the last 10 months, and her “sexy” is long gone. No one knows where that sucker has run off to – and no one knows if it will ever come back.
I’m a shell of myself, still, even after getting through the “worst” of PPD.
March, April, May and June – those 4 months I thought were the worst of the storm. The most intense period, where everything we knew was being shaken, where everything was being tested, and all was up in the air. I wasn’t sure if we’d make it.
I still don’t know how we’re here, still alive, still married, with a baby who is healthy and happy and also alive.
Every single day of the past nine months, my default mindset has been “Survive. Get through this next 15 minutes. Get through the next hour. Get through today. Just stay alive. Just stay here.”
I’ve been in public, out and about, hanging out with friends, meeting new ones for coffee, watching Riley interact with the outside world, loving people and parties and fun.
I’ve been able to smile and talk. I’ve baked cookies and decorated the house and written blogs and sent Happy Birthday texts and mailed thank you cards.
I’ve gone to work and done a good job and busted my tail to do it.
I am so proud of the girl who – while in the throes of the worst of PPD in the month of June – got out of bed after sleeping a choppy 2 hours, dropped her baby off at grandma’s, and drove to work. She did her job, and even went the extra mile. She left the office, did her hair and makeup, went to a library, and recorded herself in a video for her job, all on 2 hours of sleep. She spoke her script perfectly and smiled at the camera. She edited the crap out of that video and made it the best it could possibly be. That girl was so strong that day. She proved to herself that she was tough. She proved to herself that she could do this, and do a damn good job, even while her mind, body and emotions were giving out – collapsing.
She was strong, but she was also the weakest she had ever been.
2018: I’ve never been more fragile, needy, or ugly than I have been this year.
I’ve wanted to shout from the rooftops so everyone I love could hear it: “I’m trying! I promise I’m trying!”
I’ve forgotten so many important things. Special dates, birthdays, anniversaries. I’ve forgotten to respond to texts, neglected emails, and all the things I meant to do, had every intention of doing – have fallen by the wayside. I’ve failed a million times this year.
Failing over and over and over again. Yet trying so hard to stay above water – to not succumb to the place where I can’t get out of bed or even drive to the grocery store.
So far, I’ve beaten that.
Yet the guilt I feel for failing so many people – especially my husband and daughter – is eating me alive. Some days I’m tempted to just give up. To allow my family to have a crappy wife and mom. To give them the bare minimum. To stop trying. To stay hollow and weak, and just lie on the ground while doing absolutely nothing, and let them take care of themselves. They’ll be fine without my efforts. They don’t need my hard work and care. It’s not like anyone’s going to die without it. So why bother?
I just can’t do the things I used to. I’m just not as strong and happy and thoughtful as I used to be.
And more than anything, I just want everyone to know that it’s not because I don’t care – it’s because I’ve been through the wringer this year, and I’m worn out. I still care, but my brain is ill, and I can barely remember what I just ate for lunch.
Some day I’ll be healthy again. Some day, I hope to God I won’t be so exhausted and frazzled and falling apart. Some day, I might be well-rested, and maybe my intelligence will return. Maybe I’ll have great hair again, and maybe I won’t always be in oversized (but still just a bit too tight) lounge clothes. Maybe I’ll find my sense of humor, and genuinely laugh again, and stop the hollow smiling.
Today is not that day.