[Content warning: Postpartum Depression]
This morning I went through with one of the most terrifying and simultaneously bravest things of my life. I felt like I was going to puke as I parked my car, felt like I hadn't eaten in weeks, and even though I was dreading the meeting, my mind was done fighting at this point, letting my legs walk me in rather than run the other way. At almost 23 months postpartum, I sat across from my doctor and asked her through tears if we could discuss medication for my postpartum depression. I rehearsed the simple question over and over on my way to the doctor's office, scared I would chicken out and skirt the issue, or make it out to be less than it really was and leave without a prescription.
The past 23 months have gone something like this…
"Women with a history of being on anti-depressants are more likely to have postpartum depression." - Not me, I'll be different. I didn't really need them those few months I took them over a decade ago.
"Women who have trouble conceiving can be more prone to PPD." - Not me, I'll be different.
It's just because I'm not sleeping well, it'll pass once she sleeps through the night.
It's just because I'm breastfeeding, it'll pass once my hormones level out.
It's just because I'm not working out, once I start working out again I'll feel better.
It’s because I haven’t gone to therapy in a while.
It’s because I didn’t take enough notes when I read, “Girl, Wash Your Face.”
It's because it's winter...
It's because ...
I had a plethora of excuses to miss events, dinners, surprise birthday parties, stagettes, business opportunities, you name it.
I slowly ran out of excuses.
And I got really f$@king tired.
Tired of cancelling.
Tired of having music fall dead on my ears.
Tired of missing out on my daughter's life because I was trying to navigate in my head how I could possibly keep up this charade of being the best mom I can be to her, while inside I feel like I'm being held under water with cinder bricks tied to all 4 limbs.
Tired of "needing" a glass of wine to relax at the end of the day, without really tasting it anymore.
Tired of wondering, “is this it? Is this how it’s going to be the rest of my life?”
Tired of cancelling work project after work project.
Tired of being sad, but so much more so, tired of being weighed down by apathy.
And so SO tired of acting, of playing the dance. Because you can cancel a lot of things, but sometimes you have to show up for those big major life events. Put on your mask, it's show time!
I must have said "thank you" at least 20 times to my doctor today, she was the most wonderful person I could have asked for to speak those words to. She gave me so much hope that this is not the mind I have to live with for the rest of my life.
My doctor put it so simply but so perfectly, “Depression is a liar and a thief.”
Depression continuously tells us lies, keeping us in this dark place, and it robs us of the life in front of us. So many times I’ve felt robbed of the past 2 years with my daughter, while I’ve been there in physical body, my mind has clouded the experiences.
And the lies it tells. Want to know the single biggest factor that kept me from asking for medication earlier? I didn’t think I deserved help. Who was I to be depressed, when my life is so blessed. I’m a white middle-class Canadian woman, married to a wonderful man, with an amazing healthy daughter. What kind of a selfish ungrateful person am I, to have all this, and be depressed. The shame is unbearable. Couple that with the stigma of mental health, and add on the bias around medication? No thanks, I’ll just keep trying to therapy, sweat, and self-help book my way out of this. [Spoiler: It didn’t work for me.]
For you, if you are reading this feeling like I've opened up your head and am looking directly into your thoughts, please know that making the appointment will be the second hardest thing you'll have to do. The hardest thing you'll have to do, is keep that appointment, show up, and ask for help.