when depression steals your joy.

I used to sing in the shower. Obnoxiously. Like, cow dying-from-labor-mixed-with-squealing-pig obnoxiously. Whether I was happy or sad. Whether I was angry or indifferent. Whether I had something to look forward to or it was just another Tuesday.

I stopped singing in the shower.

That was probably the first sign that I ignored when depression took over my life. The first of many. I stopped writing. I lost myself. I lost my happiness. I lost the first year (plus some) of my child’s life. I lost my motivation. I lost my joy. I lost me.

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I struggled to nurse. I struggled to sleep even when he would. I cried. All.The.Time. Over nothing. I went through the stages but I lived in denial. This was not happening to me again. And it definitely wasn’t WORSE than last time.

It started with the constant tears. Soon after, the feelings of inadequacy began. I felt like I wasn’t worthy of being a mother to these two beautiful little humans. I convinced myself that my family would be better off without me and often caught myself daydreaming about what would happen if I just ran my car into a ditch one day. I hated myself. I sank into this darkness that I just couldn’t escape. It took every ounce of willpower in my body to get out of the bed most days. Taking a shower became a chore. I felt like I couldn’t do anything right. The anxiety kicked in and with it, rage. I felt like I could be standing directly beside someone, screaming at the top of my lungs but no one could hear my screams. And this infuriated me. I over analyzed every detail of every thing, and anxiety attacks became a part of my daily routine.

Yet, through feeling all of these things, I still felt completely numb.

I became such an angry person. I was angry with myself for sucking as a mom. I was angry at my friends and family for not seeing how I was so clearly inwardly screaming for help. I was pissed when I would open up only to have someone tell me to keep my feelings to myself, for fear of seeming “crazy.” I was furious when someone told me to just “be happy” like it was that easy. I saw nothing but red when someone would tell me to just get over it.

One day, the rage got the best of me and I essentially collapsed on the living room floor, bewildered by my own levels of anger. I finally asked for help.

To the mom who is still knee or even neck deep in this mess, it will come back. It being the joy, the giddiness, and the confidence in being you. It WILL come back. Happiness will seep back in, slowly, and with it pieces of what makes you, you.

You will get there. Soon you will feel human again. You’ll laugh without forcing it to hide the sadness. You’ll smile, not because you’re hiding the pain, but because you have joy. This season is just that, a season. And it is going to pass.

I still battle daily with my anxiety. I have to convince myself to leave the house with my kids. I have to pep talk myself into going to work. Anything beyond the basics? I still pass most of the time while I navigate my way through the rest of this phase. But tonight? Tonight, I sang in the shower. Joyfully, and obnoxiously. 

 

 

I Suck at Being a Mom.

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You know how in the movies, after the woman gives birth, and everyone is smiley and happy and joyous all the time? Yeah? I get it. Ideally, that’s how it should be. Everyone is happy. Everyone is smiling. Spouses don’t fight. Babies don’t cry. Older kids don’t get jealous.

Sometimes it’s not.

Sometimes, the baby cries nonstop for no reason. Sometimes, the spouses are at their wit’s end with exhaustion and take it out on each other. Sometimes, smiling takes too much of the ounce of energy you have left that day, and it’s not worth it to waste it. Sometimes, the older children turn into little jerks thanks to jealousy stemming from no longer being the center of attention.

Sometimes it sucks.

Please don’t get me wrong. I love both of my boys more than anything. I thank God everyday that I get to be their Mommy. I would not change a single thing.

When Aiden was about 4-5 months old, he didn’t sleep. He started having awful reflux issues that caused him to violently puke 90% of what he ate at each feeding. I was basically caring for him on my own, exhausted, frustrated, and to top it all off, I was in a horrible relationship with an apathetic partner. I constantly felt like I wasn’t good enough. That Aiden wouldn’t love me. That I wasn’t cut out to be a Mommy.

I started eating my feelings and I cried myself to sleep more often than not. I remember thinking, ‘how could something so little, that I love so much, make me so miserable.’

It wasn’t until just before Aiden turned six months old that I realized that I needed to talk to someone. Things were super rough. My ex and I fought endlessly and I felt isolated and overwhelmed 100% of the time.

I was diagnosed with postpartum depression.

Fast forward four years. I’m older and more prepared/less overwhelmed over the needs of an infant. Asher is here and about two months old. Aiden’s almost five and ready to start school. Hubs is working in a different city during the week. Our marriage is great, but we rarely have time together. He’s not home, not because he doesn’t want to be here, but because he’s working his bum off to provide for our family. Totally different dynamic.

But I started feeling those first signs of PPD again almost as soon as the last visiting relative walked out the front door. Crying over nothing. Overwhelmed. Insecure. Started eating my feelings. [I swear I’m the only person in the world who gains more weight AFTER having a baby than she does while pregnant.] Getting frustrated when Drew would come home and mess with our routine on the weekends. Getting even more frustrated when he would leave for work again when the weekend ended.

I began feeling inadequate. Like I wasn’t good enough to be these boys’ mommy. Like I wasn’t good enough to be a decent wife to Drew. Overwhelmed by the neverending dishes and laundry and feedings and laundry and cleaning and did I mention laundry? I tried to hide it from Drew for weeks, thinking that he already had enough on his plate and shouldn’t be worried about me.

A couple of weeks ago, he came home to find me completely disheveled, unshowered and still in my PJs with my hair and face a hot mess, crying, and holding Asher as he nursed. Asher had a long day with no sleep the night before, and Aiden is in this phase right now where he wants to challenge everything I say to him. I’m tired. I’m frustrated. I’m overwhelmed. I looked up and word vomited, “I have PPD again.” at him. He said, ” I know, let’s get you taken care of.”

Turns out, he already suspected I was struggling. I assume he didn’t know how to approach me about it, in case he was wrong and I was actually just crazy. We talked about making sure I had some time to myself more often, and working through it together.

So now, my boys are at home having some QT with Daddy while I sit in this Starbucks and reach out to any other moms who might be struggling with the same.

To the mom who feels overwhelmed, it gets easier.

To the mom who feels inadequate, you are enough.

To the mom who hasn’t showered in 3 or more days, your kids don’t care if you stink.

To the mom who swears she’s failing her kids, I’m willing to bet their world revolves around you.

To the mom who thinks she can’t keep up, the housework will wait. babies don’t keep.

To the mom who doesn’t want to admit she’s struggling, asking for help doesn’t mean you’ve failed. It means you’re strong enough to know when you can’t do it alone.

To the mom who believes she can’t handle being a mom AND a wife, let your Husband love you.

To the mom who feels isolated, you are not alone.

To the mom who knows she sucks at being a mom, don’t let your brain tell you a lie that your heart knows isn’t true.