Note: This is a post I’ve been meaning to write for a couple weeks now, but I’ve had no idea how to approach it. I really believe in minimizing the stigma of “mental illness”, and in the interest of keeping it 100, I have no issue talking about my history with depression on this blog. But this has been such a difficult subject to broach, for reasons I don’t really understand myself. But my therapist encouraged me to write about this, and if I wait too much longer, I might lose my nerve.
Almost daily for the last 4 months or so, I have struggled profoundly with a form of depression. We could call it situational or prenatal or just regular depression. It all applies. Pregnancy has changed my circumstances so dramatically, from being a generally social, full time graphic designer who does stuff to an unemployed woman who now finds it difficult to interact with people. Not that I don’t know how to relate to people anymore, per se, but all the old tricks I would have for “hanging out” usually included going out late at night, drinking, etc… You can’t really do that when you’re pregnant.
So I’ve been alone. More or less for half my pregnancy.
Here and there I would do the occasional lunch with a close friend or attend my old trivia night, even once or twice going out after 10 to dance with people. And the buzz you get from seeing people who you like and who like you sustains you for a short while, but eventually I slip back into a deep despair, where I feel guilty that I have all this free time, and no earthly idea of how to enjoy it. I think back to what I would do with days off from work, and the answer was usually along the lines of lunch, movie, shopping, errands. If every day is a day off, those once enjoyable activities become tedious, almost an obligation (i.e. “Maybe I should go see a movie but I don’t want to, ugh“). Then I start to think how pitiful it is that I can’t come up with anything other than going to the mall again to spend my time.
Who am I trying to impress? What does it matter if I want to go to the mall? Who cares? I know, I know. It shouldn’t matter. But for some reason it does, and I feel pathetic, and I feel sorry for myself, and then I cry, and then I cry some more because I’m sad that I’m sad. Then Alan comes home and I can’t explain what exactly is so upsetting and he can’t fix it and I feel more alone than ever.
I’m trapped between my old life and my new life. It’s about to change in ways I have no way of understanding and that’s scary but also exciting. I’m just totally stuck in this inbetween, but after a summer of no job and no social life, waiting for my life to have purpose again.
Did other mothers feel this same way? Alan and I have indulged in dinners out and movies we weren’t super stoked about, and dates with friends. I’ve indulged in shopping trips, long drives and sleeping in late (mainly out of necessity, because the morning is when I’m finally exhausted enough to ignore the pain in my hips). But I also feel like I’m the only woman in the world who has spent many of her days leading up to birth sobbing at her desk at home, sometimes over very small things, but other times, and more frequently, over the suffocating isolation and lack of creativity in her life.
I guess my goal here is not to send you on a big ol awkward guilt trip, but more to just show you, hey, when I was posting all those mood boards and photos of my house, I was also struggling silently with depression and I just want to talk about it.
Some months ago I recognized that I was struggling and having always had a fear that I could be afflicted by Postpartum Depression (PPD), or even in an extreme case, Postpartum Psychosis, I began to see a therapist. Seeking help has long been my biggest hurdle in my fight with depression and anxiety. It can be overwhelming to find a therapist, and then you have to hope that you have a good rapport with the therapist. Last fall I had a therapist who helped me in some ways but who I didn’t feel at all connected to. Luckily this time around I found a woman who is gentle and compassionate and who specializes in depressive disorders unique to women.
Because of the lessening stigma surrounding these types of issues people have, I’ve learned of a ton of my friends who suffer in similar ways, or other ways I can’t imagine. It’s hard to remember when you’re being whipped around the maelstrom of sadness that there are others struggling in their own way too, so let’s all just try a little more to look out for each other.
I’m looking forward to this podcast which will hopefully help me and others to feel even less alone in the journey. Because while I’m so glad this pregnancy is almost over, I don’t know about what the next wave of strange body changes will bring. All I know is I want to be a strong and happy mother for my baby.