Coming up for Air
Living the past few years the way I have, I would have to say without a doubt, that the worst the universe could do to you after having a rainbow baby would be to grant you with postpartum depression. You get something that you so desperately want, and then your body turns against you making it so that you do not enjoy life or that little person you so desperately wanted.
I had PPD with my oldest daughter, but I did not think I would have it with Miss Crankles. She was my rainbow, this joy we waited for so long. A lot happened in a short amount of time after having her, and I felt like all the happiness had been sucked out of my body. On top of that, she had colic, and with a husband that was out in the oil patch, I did not get much relief to sleep. I felt like it was a cruel joke. On top of that, there are still many people that do not understand PPD at all! They think you are faking it or flaking out. They talk about you behind your back in hushed tones thinking it will never get back to you, but inevitably it all does. It makes one feel so much worse and so useless. I struggled so much that first year to keep my shit together and get the big kids to the places they needed to be for their activities. I struggled to keep going on little to no sleep for days on end. When my husband ended up on a stint that lasted two months, I just wanted to crawl into a hole and die. It sucked. It was not how it was supposed to be. I felt cheated.
Ending up in the hospital last summer, only to discover it was related to the Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) I received years ago felt like the grande finale to the shit show that was my life. One of the medications they gave me post-visit was a low dosage of an anti-depressant to help prevent the migraines I kept having. It also should have helped with the depression. Mostly, it just made me feel numb and extremely unproductive. We moved, and it while it was the right thing for my family, I was an emotional wreck. I lost friends. My kids lost friends. My kids were excited about their new surroundings but sad at the same time. My husband lost his job. It felt like the universe was giving my family the finger.
The part they don’t tell you about taking an antidepressant, no matter what the reason or dosage you have, is that they are a pain in the ass to stop taking. Even on a low dosage and gentle, slow weaning, I ended up with ALL the side effects you can have. It was glorious I tell ya. The moment you start to have energy again, you get brain zaps and feel like a bumbling idiot. The effects can last weeks or sometimes months. It is brutal. I have spent the last 6 weeks feeling energetic, then followed by being so tired I could sleep for days. Then just for shits and giggles, I get to feeling like I have PMS on crack. I am not saying that one should never take anti-depressants by the way, just to be clear. Some of us need them. Some of us need talk therapy. Some of us need both. However, I am saying that the side effects when taking them and coming off them should be discussed better.The problem is that people don’t talk about it, and if you experience any of this, some people either think you are nuts or that you must be making it all up so they want to condemn you and tell EVERYONE THEY KNOW how horrible you are or that your kids are going to end up in therapy some day.
Funny thing about my kids, they think I am awesome. They do not think I am a failure.They know I have been run through the mill, and they love me, imperfections and all. So many times in the past year or two, I have thought that my PPD and TBI have gotten the best of me. However, my kids think I am doing just fine. They know Mommy has been really hurt, and they know that I am getting better. I am. It is baby steps, but I am. It is hard though. I have hurt for a long time. I keep trying to find things to give me focus on off days, like play with the kids, sitting out on the patio and watching Sissy swing on the tree swing her dad made her. Sometimes, it is talking to my son about computers. (He is a little obsessed.) Other times, it is sitting in the chair with my toddler at my breast while she holds onto me. She is a happy child, despite being called Miss Crankles. While I feel I failed sometimes because things did not go the way I wanted, she is happy. If I really was THAT much of a failure, she would not be a happy child, and neither would my other kids for that matter.
As mamas, we beat ourselves up so much about the job we do as parents. We let society, family members, and the people around us tell us how we are screwing it all up and let us know that we are all just horrible at what we are doing. That is when we need to find our tribe. We need to find those people that are not only honest with themselves, but honest about themselves with others. Those are the people we should seek. Those are the people that will truly let you know if you are mucking it up or if you are just a human being trying hard to be the best mama you can.
It has been hard this past year, but I have definitely found my tribe here. The funny thing has been that I have been pretty honest in where I am with my life when meeting them. I pretty much have met my tribe by being like, “Hi, I am Lesa. I am a hot mess. Do you still wanna be my friend?” Then I find out even the moms that seem so perfect have a hot mess side too because we are ALL hot messes one way or another. However, we are all bonded in that we want our kids to grow up and become awesome adults.
My youngest turns two in about a month, and I finally feel like I am coming up for air after feeling for so long like I am drowning. It has been a long, hard road. If you are on this road too, know it gets better. Reach out to your tribe. Find help. Don’t go it alone. Know that you are awesome and doing the best that you can!
Do you have anything to add about your experience with PPD or have just come by to say hi? If so, please feel free to comment below.