fuck taboos, let’s talk about the darkness

I’ve been working on my club since before Pickles was born.  It had to be big enough, intimidating enough.  Because I was pretty sure that the postpartum depression was going to be lurking in the dark, dusty places—the sort of places you never have time to clean with a baby in the house—and I wanted to have a heavy blunt object ready to knock it with.  It was there.  It hit first.  My club wasn’t big enough.  I didn’t even get in a good swing.

Thing is, I have this annoying voice of reason in my head all the time.  Even when I feel my worst it is in there telling me exactly how to make things good again, that things will be good again.  It is a really fucking annoying voice.  Sometimes you just need to wallow for a second, you know?  At any rate, the voice is telling me that it isn’t that bad, that a certain string of actions will make it go away, that most people who deal with the ppd (I’m going to abbreviate postpartum depression that way from here on out, laziness has won out over my hatred for abbreviations today) have it much much worse.

All the same I am finding it incredibly hard, not to get out of bed, but to leave the Wagen at all.  It feels the same way that it does, when you’re depressed, and you can’t leave the bed.  It feels like paralysis and anxiety and echoing hollowness of the stomach and sometimes sharp pangs of pressure in the head. It doesn’t make any sense.  I know that leaving the house will make me feel better, and yet I find myself incapable of leaving the house, unless shoved out the door and accompanied.  Which is pretty much the opposite of how I am on a “normal” day.  I don’t find myself resenting Baby Pickles at all—she is just way too fucking cute and heart melting and lovely–but I find myself short on patience and unable to cope.  Sometimes I feel like I am about to split into thirty thousand tiny pieces, and all my energy goes into try to hold back the storm, to keep it together.  I need to get the fuck out.  I would say I desperately need a vacation, but there is no true vacation from motherhood. So what to do?  What the fuck to do?!

I had been looking forward to the relief that returning to my normal office hours would bring.  Two whole days out of the house, at the office, among adults, no baby to worry about.  Me, actually excited about the prospect of going to an office!  But even office time is time off from being the mother.  I need it so badly and now my boss is talking like we hadn’t agreed that I would return to the two-day-a-week routine when Pickles was old enough for bottles and longer stretches of time alone.  I have absolutely no idea what is going on and won’t for another week at least, and the not knowing makes it all the worse.

I would just say fuck it to the money and hire a babysitter, but without my regular job back that ain’t happening.  (Chaching chaching!)  Most of the friends who are willing to babysit out of the goodness of their hearts are back in Mainz, and to get to them I’d have to get to Mainz (chaching chaching!).  The Beard does his fatherly part, but he works super long shifts and is sometimes gone for 48 or 24 hours.  (At least those chachings are money coming in.)  But one great thing happened today.  A new Platz-mate offered to take Pickles for two hours next week, and it sounds like a super start.

Of course, insurance would also probably cover some sort of medical help, though I always have my doubts about that route.  You’re a mess one day, and by the time your appointment finally rolls around you’re feeling fine.  I’ve tried it before, and every doctor has told me that I don’t need to be there.  Sounds good to me, not needing to be there, though it is incredibly irritating to hear when you could really use a few tips to help you cope.  But there is always that.  Support is never a bad thing at times like these.

Don’t worry, I’ll be fine.  The voices have told me, and they are always right.

Any of you deal with any ppd issues after your babies?  I’d love to hear some other experiences.  Let’s refuse to make ppd a taboo topic.

0 Comments on “fuck taboos, let’s talk about the darkness

  1. Yes, I’ve been there. I needed meds. I HATE that I needed meds, but I did. I went to my follow up appointment, and mentioned just some of the feelings that I was having, and my no-nonsense doctor started writing a prescription right away.

    I felt so much better. But also a little ‘apart’ from my life. I went back to the doctor and mentioned this. She told me that I wouldn’t be on the meds forever, and I had to admit to her that this feeling of separation from my emotions was better than the terribleness I had before. I was on them for 6 months and then I was fine.

    I went to work, etc, so it wasn’t that I needed to get away. When I was home I was sad and miserable. When I was away I felt guilty and sad and miserable.

    Talk to someone, and find what works for you. It’s totally normal and you are totally fine (or will be).

  2. It’s wicked hard to get over. My kids are 9 and 4, and I still feel the oppressive weight of apathy and hopelessness sometimes or the desire to run away. I’m homeschooling and watching other kids, too, part-time. It’s not like my whole life is children, though. There’s a lot of meaningful work and play and art and life and magic in my world that is separate or at least not directly focused on them. And that helps somewhat. But there is something about being a mother which has a dragging/draining effect on the emotions. The incessant judgment from outside, plus the demands of caring for someone who can’t do much for themselves, plus the lack of real on-the-ground tactical support, plus the expectations of what family life can and should look like, plus the lack of physical space and autonomy when you have babies or toddlers crawling on you at all times, plus the lack of self care time and real solitude (especially when you have a partner who works long hours or is unavailable in other ways) equals pure panic/desperation/depression. Well what the hell does anybody expect? Of course I’m depressed sometimes. The early stages should also be known as “Somebody lend a goddamn hand here; I’m drowning, and all I need to get above water is a fucking nap and a couple hours to myself.” The depression thing isn’t that place where I’m feeling frantic and overwhelmed, but repeat performances will trigger a depressive episode. When you have no resources left to cope with life, you are probably going to the dark place inside sooner or later even if circumstances improve. It’s too late then. There’s no reasoning with the monster once it’s loose.

  3. I’m really sorry to hear that you are struggling with this, and I don’t have any good advice to offer , but I think it’s pretty amazing that you have been able to talk about it as so many people seem to keep it to themselves which really doesn’t help. While I didn’t suffer from this I did struggle with being with the kids 24/7 after a while. I wasn’t getting any time on my own and that in itself took quite a toll on me. S wasn’t especially understanding as, as he said “YOU chose to stay at home with the kids.” This wasn’t really very helpful when I was feeling overwhelmed by the feeling that I was on duty 24 hours a day and had no family anywhere nearby to take them for even a couple of hours. Eventually I decided I had to do something for myself and I started going to a couple of evening classes and I can honestly say while at first I felt awfully guilty for ‘not thinking about the kids’ for a couple of hours, it did me amazing good.

    Again, I know that my situation wasn’t the same thing at all, but I do hope you can find some help; someone to take Pickles for a few hours here and there; and get some time to just be yourself, and hopefully that may help a little bit.

  4. Sorry to hear you’re going through this Nikki. Depression is just awful. I’ve had two bouts in my life that are like a blight on my past. It’s not easy to come through, but somehow eventually I just did. 

    I didn’t have PPD as such, but I did go through a really isolated and low time a few months after having Nookie. I rarely left the house through anxiety about upsetting her and fear of not being able to cope with her outside alone. I felt smothered by her needs and completely alone in my difficulties. My life started to feel isolated and routine, and like it wasn’t going anywhere. I started to get resentful towards everyone and became angry and miserable. It culminated in the period where I left Hedgehog and went to live with my mum, which is about the same time I started blogging and trying to address what I wanted from life. Gradually I started to take better care of myself, ask for what I needed, and I started to get out more. But it took a long time for me to come through it. 

    I think mothering is really hard Nikki; harder than we consciously realise sometimes. It requires such energy and focus and dedication. Our thoughts are always with our child, first and foremost, and I think that sometimes takes a toll on our mental wellbeing. Doing anything at all requires an extra level of thought that was never there before. It’s hard to adjust, and sometimes seems overwhelming. I’m not sure what the answer is other than to find a coping mechanism that works: something that is for you, every day. I spend all day every day caring for Nookie and Hedgehog, but I have to find a short moment in the day for me or I go crazy. So when Nookie naps on me I watch my favourite TV programs, and whenever I get a spare moment I read. I really look forward to these periods, however trivial they might seem. They’re the one time I can lose myself in something other than caring. I also try to get out with Nookie and do fun things together. If I’m indoors with her too much I get really bored. So we go swimming, to play centres, to museums and parks and local events. All this activity is as much for me as her: to break the day up and add another dynamic to parenting. 

    I’m not suggesting any of this will work for you, I’m just saying what helped – helps – me. Sometimes I still feel really really down and smothered and need a break from her. Unfortunately that’s not always possible, especially at the minute. And in those moments I’m not a good mum. I’m angry and impatient and resentful. But I guess that’s life, and sometimes we just have to muddle through and bring our child along for the muddling. I eventually come through it and try to see ways that I can prevent it from happening again. 

    And in the meantime, I’m always here if you need to talk. 🙂

  5. I don’t think I had pdd, but Nathan thought I did and urged me to go see someone, even though we both have a distaste for “therapy”. This was when Jane was around 6 mos. old. I was very emotional and at times paranoid that my husband and baby hated me.

    I think we both fall into the camp of “crazy at times, but ultimately believe it will be alright”, but cheers to you for writing about it.

    Waiting to hear about the job sucks, but try not to worry about the future. It won’t be like this forever. Pickles will get easier, you will find a job and an escape eventually, it absolutely will not be this hard indefinitely.

  6. Nikki you should try to go take a tan. Get a big dose of light on your hypothalamus. Might make you feel better. They often prescribe light therapy to people with seasonal affective disorder, so maybe it would help.

  7. Yes, yes, yes!!!! With my first two kids, I didn’t want to admit it, but looking back, I was absolutely depressed. It’s the isolation that gets me. If I just had another adult around who could trade off. I notice a huge difference even when a friend with just as many kids as I have visits. The kids play together, I get to chat with a grown up…bliss. I was getting really badly depressed with this last kid during the pregnancy. I felt like I was drowning, like everything was too damn hard, like everyone was coming at me with a knife. I kept trying to do things to make myself feel better–walks, time sans kids, all sorts of vitamins. After a week of crying every day over tiny, tiny things, I talked things over with my midwife, and we decided to give St. John’s Wort a shot. I know it doesn’t work for everyone, but it’s really helped me stay further back from hurtling over the edge.

    Waiting to hear about the job sucks! I hope that gets worked out soon. And, especially, that you find something that pulls you out of the darkness.

  8. I don’t have kids so will leave it to the other mums and dads to comment on that aspect of it, but I have, unfortunately, far more experience with depression than I ever wanted to. Have been meaning to post about it for a while actually but have difficulty getting to a point – must work on that.

    Anyway, don’t forget that you have just moved and despite it being slightly easier to move your entire house, in that you didn’t have as much packing etc. to do, it is still one of the most stressful things you can do. I would say particularly because you were not just switching locations but because Wagenplatz living means there was a much bigger element of community switching than most people have to deal with. And if the weather there has been anything like the weather here the last couple of weeks you’ve probably had a lot of gray topped off with weirdly warm tempeartures. None of that will help. Just don’t forget to take into account that… crap, sorry, someone came into the office and now I’ve forgotten the somewhat more uplifting point I was going to make at the end. And thinking about it for nearly ten minutes has not helped me find the train of thought again. Oh well. Fill in as appropriate.

    And if you want to come and stay with a near-stranger for a few days, let me know. Pickles welcome too since she’s not moving independently enough for my very baby-unfriendly, four flights up place to be much of an issue yet. 🙂

  9. First of all, thanks so much to everyone for all the nice and lovely and supportive comments! Seriously. Awesome. Knowing that there would be others who could empathize was a big part of deciding to post this, even though there is a lot of judgement lurking out there about posts about this too.

    Jen: Thanks for sharing! I’ll have to do some sort of update post as I figure this shit out.

    Rachele: Oh hells yeah you hit it spot on. At the moment I am frantically looking forward to the times when Pickles is more autonomous, or just when she can start communicating a bit and moving herself around. Will take so much off my hands just that little bit. Oh I can’t wait. But will it be enough? Who knows. And at the same time that I feel like this my hormones are still all like “yeah you should have more of these!” But then when I try to imagine a second kid in context with these feelings I can’t help but feel that my hormones are trying to screw me over.

    Fiona: Shit, he said “YOU chose this” to you having issues dealing? That is incredibly supportive of him, eh? Thank cod the beard hasn’t said anything like that or I might have ripped off his head preying mantis style. Anyway, thanks for the kind words. Just a little time away would be great. As it is whenever I have a second I run to try to do something that makes me feel a little better, usually writing, which means that NOTHING else gets done. Without the Beard around I would be totally fucked I think, as he takes care of all the stuff I’m not getting to in favor of an attempt at self-preservation that isn’t even working very well. But still.

    RR: Power to us! For powering through these sort of feelings. I have always stood in awe of you even remotely keeping it together with a high-needs child. I mean I guess we all rise to our challenges, but I often can barely deal with my low-needs child, so I am all like wow RR is like an ultra super hero. 🙂 Guess I should try to imagine that maybe someone else things that about me and somehow draw strength from that. Or something.

    At the moment my anxiety and paralysis feelings seem to revolve around getting out on my bike. Train tickets are expensive, particularly as our finances look like ass at the moment, so I don’t want to “splurge” on one of those as often as I would like (in Mainz I could walk right into the city worse case, here we live a bit too far for that, though I am considering trying it once again. I’ve walked to downtown from here before and it took three and a half hours, so its probably not a good solution). Anyway, so biking is an obvious awesome way to get around that. But Pickles doesn’t really like the bike trailer, so there is always some stopping and a lot of screaming (at least) at first. Don’t love that, but I could get over it if I didn’t desp need to fix some shit on my bike AND oh right I don’t have time to do things like build our new shed, and so the trailer got really damp and part of it got moldy and I need to do something about that before I can even think about using it again. Sigh. And so I never leave. Anyway, I can see clear steps to making that all less hard, so I hope I can manage some of them. Too bad getting the bike fixed costs money too. Arg! But I will prevail damn it! (Also, there are these awesome kid bike attachments and I want one so bad and oh shit they aren’t even as expensive as I thought: http://www.amazon.de/D-S-Kinderfahrradsitz-Fahrradsitz-vorne/dp/B004UOSZ54)

    FVM: “crazy at times, but ultimately believe it will be alright” Oh you nailed that haha.

    Paula: That is a really great idea. Actually I have been vaguely contemplating the role vitamin d might be playing in this lately as well. The weather has been such shit, grey and awful and when Pickles wakes up in the morning it is still pitch black like its the god damned middle of the night (unrelated but also highly unawesome). Anyway, good idea. I should maybe look into one of those lamps.

    Rachel: I feel like kind of a wuss sometimes when I think that I am feeling this and I have a partner to trade off with. (We are still far from finding a way to make child care equal between us, which has resulted in some frustration, actually A LOT of frustration, but we’re getting there bit by bit.) The community element is key. I miss what we had in Mainz!!!

    Moonwaves: Which brings me right to what you said. Totally on the thoughts on the move (and the weather). That is exactly why I refused to move before Pickles arrived. I thought at this age it might be a bit easier, and it probably is, but a bit easy doesn’t equal not hard, unfortunatly. But yeah, the group here is really absent as well. As in people aren’t around a lot to just join in some hanging out or just ask to hold Pickles for a bit. Just needs some time. Hey anybody know any moms in Frankfurt they think I should meet? I am dying to get to a LLL meeting but they are only once a month and I have yet to be able to make one.

    Anyway, tangent, back to responding to your comment. Thanks a bunch for the offer to visit! I would love to take you up on that when the finances improve.

  10. Nikki it is a really, really important thing that you are able to recognise that (and why) you’re feeling like this; what’s equally important is that you hang on to that for dear life and do your very best not to let your perspective get all twisted. Keep in sight that it’s the black dog trying to have his way and it’s not YOU; and do whatever you need to do to help yourself ride it out – because you WILL get through it.

    If and when you have good days, or even moments, embrace them, and through the bad ones just remember a good one will appear again, too, and do not feel guilty for wanting to stay in your Wagen all day and/or have some time to yourself. Make sure you do stick your head outside from time to time but you will emerge when you are ready. If you don’t want to go outside, just make sure you keep on doing one or two productive, interesting things inside: try your best to do a little bit of reading and some writing and some enjoying of Pickles each day. And speaking of writing, you really are awesome for writing about this.

    Anyway I know, also from experience, that all the advice in the world doesn’t help when you’re being suffocated by a horrible heavy blanket and you can’t see straight – and bloody hell, it was hard enough to look after myself without having an amazing little Pickles to take care of! So… I’ll stop rambling. But I’m really, really sorry you’re feeling like this – I am absolutely terrified of it happening again to me, and I feel awful for you that you’re going through it. I’ll be thinking of you and am just over here if you need anything at all *waves*. You are an incredibly strong and amazing person and a bloody brilliant mum and you WILL pull yourself out of the fog. And life will once more be awesome. Don’t lose sight of that 🙂

  11. Awww! That’s a sweet thing to say. Funny though… I’m always in awe of you! For the life you lead, and the person you are. You’re a constant inspiration to me.
    Well, things are a lot easier for me now, mostly because I’m just happier within myself. But if you’d have known me a couple of years ago you’d have seen a different person. Back then I wasn’t holding it together at all really.
    And also, don’t convince yourself that parenting a ‘low-needs’ child is easy! I think parenting ALL kids is really hard work! Give yourself some credit.

    I really get where you’re coming from with the transport issue. I actually think that’s a major reason I’m so much less stressed now. Once I could drive things became immensely easier. Before that I felt trapped and restricted. Now I can just get in the car whenever and take Nookie wherever I like. So I really understand. I hope you get something sorted soon hun.

  12. Ok, I’m super late to this and you may be in a whole different stage of everything. I found (still do) terribly annoying when my most private and personal experience was waved off by someone else as “normal”. Don’t worry, that’s normal! So fucking what??? The only advice I can think of as useful is… don’t forget to breathe. I felt like drowning and then I realized I was holding my breath, and then I breathe and my perspective just shifted. It was a THING but it wasn’t EVERYTHING.

    The darkness sort of started lifting off when my baby was around 6 months and I started weaning her, so my experience… what can I say? I was overwhelmed by the crying, and it took me quite a while to accept that the crying wasn’t directed at me, was not a complaint because I was doing things wrong. Babies just cry like crazy, and stupid as it may sound it totally took me by surprise. My husband is quite supportive and ours is quite the equal marriage, but from time to time my mind tells me otherwise. Sometimes I feel like shit. Sometimes I just turn on the computer and the big screen and force feed my daughter with Winnie the Pooh and Angellina ballerina, because I don’t have the mental energy to keep up with her. If I try, sometimes it’s cool – we go to the park and spend a while in the swingers, but sometimes everything turns out messy. I do something bad and she gets upset, and everything is just a big pile of shit.

    And sometimes it isn’t. She blabbers and does her things – you know, kids really don’t need much to be happy, and marvels at the clicking of the pen tip that appears and disappears, and everything is just fine. Ephemeral, tiring, but fine.

    I think that’s what happiness is made of, but I’m not too sure.

  13. I find getting out and getting some sunshine incredibly helpful. The only problem is on cloudy days what’s a girl with her baby to do?

    I’ve also recently started reading Minding Your Mitochondria which is a book about making sure your brain is getting all it needs to function it’s best. The author/doctor suggests that a combination of exercise, diet and meditation can stave off mental and physical disability. If you’re interested her TED talk is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KLjgBLwH3Wc

    I haven’t really gotten into it so I can’t vouch for it. Both me and my partner have mental health issues in our families and alzheimer’s makes me quake in my boots so I figure being a little preemptive is a good thing. Depression is also included in her book.

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