This post was easy to write–because I’ve been thinking about it for weeks–but scary to publish.
Big deep breath … here we go.
I recently read this blog post from a fellow mother with bipolar disorder recounting her experiences with postpartum depression. It’s courageous and beautiful and painful–and brought back many of my own experiences. It also inspired me to write this post.
I don’t remember much about my postpartum with Turbo. I was so, so sleep deprived for 6 months straight. I remember at one point telling a friend I’d been living on 2-3 hours of sleep that whole time. So the sleep deprivation has erased many of those memories. I’m sure I’ve conveniently forgotten some as well. Here’s what I do remember:
I remember crying every single day for 6 months straight. Often multiple times a day.
I remember wanting to run away. Thinking about how much I hated being a mother. Wishing it had never happened. Then crying out of guilt the next minute because of course I wanted to be a mother, how could I ever think that?
I remember pleading with my child to please, please sleep. And please, please take the bottle so I could get back on meds.
I remember meds helping … but not enough.
I remember throwing the bottle across the room when he kept refusing to take it.
I remember noticing I was bouncing him quite hard one afternoon, and realizing for the first time how someone could shake a baby.
I remember setting him in his crib, still crying, because I couldn’t take it anymore.
I remember countless nights of insomnia. I was so, so exhausted and yet as soon as I got in bed, I couldn’t sleep.
I remember lying awake at night, making plans to get up, drive to the grocery store, buy some alcohol, come home and get drunk so I could shut my freaking brain off and finally sleep.
I remember desperately talking myself out of that plan time and time and time again. (I don’t drink alcohol for religious reasons.)
I remember slamming my head against the dresser behind me one night when Turbo had his umpteenth cold and I was trying to clear his nose out in the middle of the night so he could just please sleep, and he was crying and fighting me and not sleeping and not sleeping and not sleeping.
I remember many nights of laying in bed and talking myself out of going to the kitchen to get a knife to cut myself. But I had to self-harm, I was going crazy, so I “settled” by hitting myself in the head as hard as I could.
I remember spending two weeks of Turbo’s sixth month of life in bed. In the morning, I’d get him, grab his bottles and diapers, eat enough to sustain me, and crawl back into bed. He was literally the only thing that kept me going.
I remember so many out of body experiences. (This is a form of psychosis.) Two while I was driving. One in particular was scary because it was rush hour traffic and the cars whizzing past me seemed so harmless and far away. I remember telling myself, “Just get off the road. You’ve got to get off the road. Your baby–your entire world–is in this car and he’s depending on you.”
I remember Thanksgiving when my brother came to visit and I had a breakdown of epic proportions and he and the Mister had to pick up the pieces and finish cooking dinner while I slept off the insanity.
I remember dreading the night.
I remember dreading the morning.
When Turbo dropped to two naps a day, things got much better and the postpartum depression cleared. When I got pregnant this time, I had a plan. After Nugget was born, it took two weeks for me to get up to a viable dosage of my multivitamin, and in that time I could see that my postpartum was on a path to be much worse this time. But then I started taking enough, and the world was a brighter place. I still cry from time to time, because being a mom is hard, and newborns are really, really hard, but it’s not the same. I’m still tired, but it’s not the same. No more desires to run away. No more thinking I hate being a mom. No more dreading each coming day. I’m not happy every moment, and my body has readjusted so bipolar depression is hanging around the fringes waiting to pounce. But I am sane. I am mostly balanced–and when I’m not, I can get back in balance fairly easily.
I love my children. I love being a mother. I’m not happy every moment, but there’s a bud of ever-present joy nestled in my heart.