GUEST POST By: MamaRobinJ, Farewell, Stranger
When I last shared my story on Motherhood Unadorned I had just begun a leave of absence from work to deal with the ongoing effects of postpartum depression. It was so hard for me to admit that I had asked for a leave, even on my own blog where I’m totally open about my experience with PPD. It just felt weak.
A lot has changed since then – partly my own progress and partly my expectations. I’m still on leave – it’s been almost 3 months so far, which is WAY longer than I expected. I thought I just needed some time to focus on my own stuff instead of trying to work full time and be a mom while figuring out how to start feeling normal again.
It didn’t take long for me to realize it was going to be longer than a month. Possibly a lot longer.
I had just transitioned on to a new medication and the result was six weeks of total hell I never want to experience again. Luckily the meds started to work, or so I assume, because I started feeling better. But for me, feeling emotionally better and feeling like I can resume normal life are quite different things.
My biggest symptom of postpartum depression was rage. I was so angry all the time, and the littlest thing would set me off. I could not deal with my son, and one of the things my husband and I did during those first few weeks of my leave was to take me completely off toddler duty. At first the guilt – both the mama variety and the wife variety – was awful. But I knew I needed to do it.
I got past that and for a while it seemed like things were better. Just like that. Ta da! All better. But that’s not how it works.
I’ve been considering going back to work, and the weekend after I mentioned the idea to my boss I crashed. Big time. I don’t think it’s related, but who knows. Maybe I’m not ready.
I am better at controlling the irritability that leads to rage, but I’ve had a couple of slips in the last couple of weeks where I’ve had unexpectedly hard days.
I’ll admit that as I write this I’m not having a good day. Blame it on bad sleep over the last week thanks to my darling 3-year-old – who’s afraid of everything from shadows to sharks coming into his room at night – and a bad appointment with my less-than-compassionate psychiatrist and I’m feeling like I’m back in the swirl.
Luckily I’ve got an army to call on. A huge source of support for me is my PPD mamas. This community is amazing – it’s a group who participate in #PPDChat on Twitter, and we now have a closed Facebook group for additional support. I can yell for help and ask for hugs and strength and I get responses almost immediately. I’ve never met most of them in person (just one, who lives where I do) and yet I know they have my back just like I have theirs.
Not a lot in the past three months has gone as I’ve expected, but not much in the last three years has either. It’s a good, but tough, lesson: depression doesn’t necessarily respond to best laid plans, so for now this planner is just going to have to roll with it – and call in the army when needed.