The inevitable topic.
During my pregnancy, I read books…ok, glanced through books and posts. And I read a little about postpartum. All I could really remember is that sometimes it will happen and other times, not so much. So I came to the conclusion that it just wasn’t something to worry about. Especially since black women didn’t really deal with those things.
Oh, did I mention that I’m black? Ok, cool. Moving on.
Well, I had Ky in the mist of the whole Sandra Bland case (if you have no idea who that is or what it’s about…I suggest you stop right now and google, seriously…I’ll wait…No really, go do it!….Got it?….Cool.).
Now picture this: you just gave birth to a baby girl in a not-so-ideal situation, during a time when police brutality is being recorded and posted on all social media sites like it’s another ice bucket challenge; the latest being a black female “found” dead in her cell. How do you think my emotional state was at that time?
I was a complete and utter (hate this word…probably will never use that again) mess. I cried every day out of fear and uncertainty. Granted, I had help. My mom came down from NY and spent the summer with Ky and I; friends dropped in just about every other day; and our leasing manager at the time was always checking in on us. (Yea, I know how blessed we are). But I couldn’t help but think that I was not fit to be a mother and wasn’t sure how I could ever take care of a child in these times. My mind constantly raced with scenarios that all led to my daughter becoming unstable, broken, hurt…and there being no way I could help her.
I think I already suffer from a bit of depression, aside from the Seasonal one. But I knew how to cope with those; maybe not in the best, healthy ways, but I did. Postpartum Depression, on the other hand, was a different ball game. I had to appear sane, cope, deal all while taking care of a newborn by myself; away from family. And I know it wasn’t technically “by myself” but that’s how it felt. Ky’s “The Other Person” (my friends call him “TOP” for short…Ha!) wasn’t in the picture, my immediate family all live in NY or FL, and I couldn’t possibly rely on my friends here who already have lives of their own. And I know it’s going to sound crazy to say this, but I can now empathize with those moms who snapped and just couldn’t deal. Not to say I support their actions, but I can certainly understand them.
After my mom and brother left, and the visits became few and far between, and the weather became colder, and it became harder to go to work…I immediately knew what I was going through. It felt like any life I could muster up within me was drained and the thought of even trying to gain it back was discouraging. It came to the point I couldn’t get out of bed some days and took off work. And the days that I couldn’t, I spent crying in the bathroom at work. And then I just found myself crying all the time. Crying at home. Crying on the bus. Crying on the walk home. Crying in the shower. Contemplating awful thoughts. Leaving Ky alone [safely] just to give myself a break. And I’m sure others sensed it, but I just stuck to the same robotic answer: “I’m fine.”
I was depressed and afraid to discuss it with anyone. Why? Too many people saw me as this independent, always found a way, strong person and being depressed was the opposite of that to me. I had to keep up appearances. I didn’t want others to pity me; to be looked at as this person that needed saving. I really just wanted to vent and be alone and let the whole thing pass. But then I wanted to get out and do something and smile genuinely. It was a confusing mix of emotions. And really, no one could do anything about it. At the time, my depression didn’t seem like something that could be “fixed”. I felt like I was the only one who would be able to control it from taking over my life.
So Ashley, what changed?
My circumstances and coping mechanisms. When I was going through the peak of my postpartum, my situation added on to my depression. I was car-less, a new mom, technically a new teacher because I was pregnant my first year (which also means I was basically broke 99% of the time), and my family lived nowhere near me. There were too many factors on top of my depression and I wasn’t getting the support I should have.
Now I’m able to handle it; yes, over a year later and I’m still going through it because there isn’t a set timer on postpartum depression. And I handle it just the way I am doing now: by writing. I always found therapy in writing. And, recently, in prayer. So I decided to combine the two and post my prayers on the wall (got the idea from that movie War Room – Go see it!). And yes, having the car and getting somewhat the hang of the mama-teacher combo helps; but writing my prayers is what helps. Or helped. I haven’t done it in a while (that’s for another post).
Although I have found a way that works for me, I wish I had handle things differently. Gone to support groups. Been honest with my and Ky’s doctors about how I was really feeling. Spoke with someone. Asked for help. I’m sure I would have been able to cope better.
Well, to be continued…