This is What Postpartum Depression Feels Like
By CharminglyChandler4 on March 01, 2011
There is no way I could have written this post a year ago. Because I didn’t know how to describe it. I couldn’t find the words. But last night was a rough night. It was like the rug of calm-loving-life-pleasant-happiness got pulled out from under me.
Cody asked a friend, who is the mother of a 3-month-old, how it felt being a new Mommy… and she said “It’s the best feeling in the world.” Innocent enough. But the moment I heard the words my ears burned. My throat closed. My eyes filled with tears. And I couldn’t breathe.
My knee jerk reaction was to text a friend. Someone I knew would understand. So from the bathroom, in tears, I texted and never sent it. Because I didn’t want to TALK about it. I didn’t want to discuss it. I didn’t want her to call and want me to talk. So I didn’t send it. That’s a mistake. Friends let me tell you, the moment you have the instant reaction to reach out? DO IT. Trust me. She probably could have talked me through it and it not spiraled the rest of my night. But I kept it to myself, and much like PPD did a year ago, it ate at me. Slowly. In every word said, every action of my child. It’s unnerving.
When we got home I instantly reached out on Twitter, where people won’t call me, but I can get it out. I can put it out there. After we put Sophia to bed, Cody went back over to my brother-in-law's house. Leaving me alone. In a silent house. Because I didn’t tell him I didn’t want to be alone. I didn’t tell him I needed him to stay. I didn’t say anything about what I was feeling. That’s a mistake. He could have stayed and maybe I would have told him, but even if I didn’t, I wouldn’t have been in a quiet house. Alone. With these feelings.
Eventually the feelings left room for rage. And before I knew it I was calling Cody and yelling at him. Fighting. Yelling. It was easy to fall back to that place.
After Cody came home he made me talk. He tried to understand. But the truth is he can’t understand PPD. He can’t really get it. And when he tries he gets frustrated because he just can’t get it. So I get upset. And we get nowhere. But last night, I found a perspective I hadn’t been able to put my finger on before. And so this is how I explained to him what happened when she said those words “it’s the best feeling in the world.”
Imagine that this huge, life changing, awesome thing happens to you. But instead of getting to enjoy it and experience it, you’re taken hostage and locked in a small cell, with no windows, with someone coming by and terrorizing you, screaming at you, cutting you down. But that voice, that person? It’s your own voice. And you may get so desperate to get the voice to shut up that maybe you start hurting yourself. So now you’re in this small dark cell, alone, while being emotionally beat down and maybe physically beat down as well. But while you’re in this cell, everyone else is enjoying this huge, life changing, awesome thing. Everyone else is basking in it, they are full of happiness, joy, elation. They are loving every moment of life while you are locked in this small dark cell, alone.
Months pass and you find the key and you hopefully let yourself out of the cell. But it takes months for your eyes to adjust to the light. It takes months for you to remember how to walk. It takes months for you to believe anything other than what the voice in your head told you while you were in the dark cell. It takes time to adjust and by the time you do this huge, life changing, awesome thing has changed. You missed part of it. You can’t get it back.
But other people didn’t, so when they say those words “It’s the best feeling in the world,” it instantly puts me in the cell. It instantly transports me and it makes me so incredibly sad. It makes me sad for everything I didn’t experience. For everything I didn’t feel. For everything I missed out on that the rest of the world didn’t. “It’s the best feeling in the world,” for her. For everyone but me.* And in seven words I’m thrown into the cell. The wind is knocked out of me. The rug has been pulled out from under me. I’ve been sucker punched in the gut.
*I understand not everyone experienced the happiness and joy and elation. But it feels that way, when you’re the one missing it. When you see the joy in someone’s eyes that you know you didn’t have.