I was reluctant to admit it to the world, but it’s a fact and I shouldn’t be ashamed of it: I’m struggling from postpartum depression — a full 14 months after my daughter’s birth. It’s morbid and ironic but the thing keeping me from offing myself is the fact that I’m someone’s mother.
It’s hard to explain to anyone who hasn’t experienced it, but depression really makes everything negative. You berate yourself for stupid little shit, then you berate yourself for berating yourself. My brain is numb from these dull winter days.
I haven’t had a proper diagnosis because we can’t afford healthcare, but having had clinical depression in my late teens, I know the feeling well. It moved in on me about two months ago—the feeling that I didn’t have any true friends, that I was nothing but a burden on my loved ones. It’s the cloud that darkens my favorite activities and stops me after my first brushstroke on a new canvas, stops me after a few keys played on my piano, leads me to desperate “vaguebooking,” or last-ditch effort pleas to the social media universe to rescue me. It’s the cloud that confines me to a couch while my baby toddles and babbles for my attention and the feeling that brings me to tears while I’m nursing her, wishing I had the energy to be the mother she needs.
Like I said, no healthcare, so I’m not medicated. But every Thursday night I get a bit of a release when my husband and I play amateur volleyball. The physical and social aspects of the game have restorative powers. That is, they did, before scheduling got complicated.
We used to bring baby to the games, but lately the half hour drive each way has infallibly sent baby into a fit of enraged crying. And that’s not including her frequent crying during the game. Now that her separation anxiety is in full gear, if someone other than mama is holding her on the sidelines, she screams bloody murder. It’s a distraction in an otherwise silent gym, to say the least. As her mother, my heart pounds every time I hear so much as a whimper from that baby, which means when she’s crying it’s pretty impossible to focus on acing that serve or reacting quickly enough to save that ball from going out of bounds.
And the games are late. Sometimes as late as 10 p.m. Baby won’t go to bed without nursing, so keeping her home with a sitter isn’t an option. But keeping her awake wreaks havoc on her sleep schedule. There’s no right way to do this. Call me selfish, but I just cannot give up the one thing in my week that I’m still excited for.