I have a very good life. We have a very good life. A loving husband; two beautiful, clever, amazing children; a warm, safe home; close, supportive, nearby family; a strong church community; and dreams and the vision to achieve them. I am very happy.
Except that, lately, I am not.
Despite my best efforts, despite a surprisingly positive birth experience, despite breastfeeding, despite bed-sharing, despite babywearing, despite placenta encapsulation, despite all the positive things in my life and despite my concerted efforts to denydenydeny the fact that things are how they are...post-partum depression is very much our reality.
I've dealt with depression before. When I was 19 I struggled long and hard with this black monster seeking to pull me under. For a time, it did and I only surfaced for brief, sustaining gasps of air before continuing to flounder. It was months of struggle.
But at least then I could explain it.
High school had, secretly, been very rough for me; university, while glorious and exciting, was stressful with friends scattered across the province and beyond; and then my family effectively fell to pieces, and those pieces scattered very far, indeed. I could explain it then: "I am sad because...". But this? This seems entirely without reason. We have a great life. I have a great life.
There is so much for which to be thankful, and more importantly, I am thankful.
I know how blessed we are. I look at our children and am absolutely floored by how unbelievable it is that I get to be with them and watch them grow and learn. They are wonderful. So why am I not rejoicing in that 24 hours a day? Why am I short-tempered and impatient and exhausted and just...sad?
A week ago things came to a head. We had what was, essentially, one of the worst days I've ever had. And I've had some doozies. The next day I came out, so to speak. No more pretending. No more putting on the cheery, blissful-mommy face:
things are not ok, I am not ok.
I need to acknowledge that and accept the support of my family and friends. It's helping. It helps to know that I'm thought of, that I'm cared for, that I'm not the only mother who feels or has felt like this. It helps to know that I'm loved.
But it's not enough.
I - or rather, we, because this is going to involve our whole little family - need to make a pretty dramatic shift. I need to start taking care of myself. It would be a total lie to say that I don't think about myself. I do think about myself.
I'm not taking care of myself.
I worry about growing our children. We worry about giving them opportunities to learn and experience and thrive and rejoice. And I? I...don't. I'm not learning. I'm definitely not thriving. And I'm not rejoicing with the sort of frequency I would like.
It isn't that I want my life to be better: it's that things are good and I want myself to be better in it.