I wish I could explain what every day feels like. I wake up thinking, “I hope he stays asleep – or at least happy enough – for me to eat breakfast and drink a cup of tea.” And then I berate myself for how uncaring and selfish that is. Because I’m already being so negative on myself, I wonder how much sleep I actually got based on how I’m behaving, and I berate myself for last night asking my husband to take the 3am feeding – he has to work today, why am I being so selfish?
Except I haven’t gotten anywhere near a decent night’s sleep in two weeks. The sleep I do get is unstable and interrupted and filled with anxiety and all too often exhausted from crying earlier in the day.
My mornings start with the longing for more time for myself. Time to leisurely eat a bowl of cereal, really watch the news and get a grasp of what is happening in the world, enjoy a cup of nice British tea. But instead I bolt all of these things, just in case he starts up – which he usually doesn’t, so why am –
And here I’m interrupted by a child woken prematurely from his nap. A nap which I should be sharing but I can’t because my mind races and I and overflowing with guilt about the things I could be doing.
– worried so much about it? Nearly every morning he just quietly coos and babbles until I get to him – his usually wet diaper be damned, the kid is still just happy to be awake and have air to talk to.
While I am nothing but resentful.
I change him, enjoying the few glimmers of normalcy and hope as he smiles and coos at me, then I get ready to feed him. We’re formula feeding, so I feel the loss of breastfeeding every day. Usually about 8 or so times.
Sometimes he eats just fine. Sometimes it’s a fight and I have no idea why. He flails and kicks and spits the bottle out and makes a huge mess and I am so frustrated I could scream. Sometimes I give up, even if he hasn’t finished the whole bottle. Sometimes Nick can help and finish the feeding while I go somewhere else. Usually to cry because I can’t feed my child.
There’s a lot of crying. Sometimes for reasons, sometimes for no reasons.
I try to make sure to drink water and eat healthy snacks because everyone says that will help me feel better. It doesn’t make a damn bit of difference, as far as I can tell. Neither do the drugs – the drugs I take so many of I can’t breastfeed – most days. Like today. Today I feel like a white nothingness of dull pain stretches far, far into my future.
Today’s one of those days when I wonder if I should have become a mother.
Today’s one of those days when I know that though is poisonous and guilt-ridden and yet there it is, in my head. And I hate it. I hate the thought, and I hate the guilt that follows.
Rinse, repeat for the rest of the day.
My husband helps at the end of his work day, most days, but he’s been working and he’s as quick to frustration with Ben as I am. Which is shockingly stupid because the child is absolutely angelic – he’s almost never fussy, certainly not colicky, loves just a little attention and can entertain himself well. Other than needing a feeding, he usually sleeps through the night. Sometimes he even sleeps a solid 8 hours anyway.
What the HELL is my problem? I have a perfect child, perfect husband, perfect house and neighborhood and life. Why can’t I be happy with this? I am a terrible person for not being happy, for not being satisfied, for wanting more. Shame on me. I am ashamed, and guilty, and I am breaking the world.
I cry more, usually, before bedtime, because of imagines problems with feeding, with fussing, with my own uncontrollable mood. Ben is usually sleeping when I get up to get ready for bed at 8pm in hopes that I can get a solid stretch of 6 hours of sleep before he needs to be fed (we’ve determined lack of sleep is a trigger with my depression and anxiety), and so I try to be asleep by 9pm. It rarely works; like napping during the day, trying to fall asleep is just a time for my mind to race and remind me what a mess I am. Eventually I drop off, I guess, because Nick will finally come to bed after giving Ben a final feeding at around 11pm, because he can’t get to sleep any earlier. But really I’m more tossing and turning than anything.
That’s what a day with postpartum depression and anxiety is like. A day on 175 mg of Zoloft, on risperidone and clonezepam, though it feels like nothing. Some days are a little better, some are a little worse. Some I have therapy or a break because grandparents are visiting, but they’re still all filled with the horrid whispers of the disease in my head, the disease stealing my joy. I want it gone. That’s what I want, every single day.