One year ago I wasn’t in a very good place. I was struggling mentally, physically and emotionally.
My body was readjusting to my new normal after giving up breastfeeding Alex, and I spent the first couple months of 2015 in a dark place that I wasn’t sure I’d ever get out of. Aside from other symptoms, I was getting constant yeast infections and couldn’t’ figure out why. I’m no doctor, but I’m pretty sure my hormone levels were straight fucked. I was up and down, and was not happy. I longed to be happy, but nothing I did, even spending time with the family I yearned for for so long, helped.
During this time, I was still getting used to a new job I’d started a few months before. When I first accepted the new position, I was looking for any way out of my old job. With all of the things that were already going through my head after Alex was born in March of 2014, “Why am I being punished for going on maternity leave?” was also one of them.
But let’s go back to the beginning.
It’s hard to separate your feelings when you’re completed overwhelmed with being a new mother. Three or four hours of sleep for weeks at a time will slowly drive a person insane, and eight weeks after giving birth (That’s so thoughtful, giving a mom who’s had her belly sliced open TWO EXTRA weeks to recover!), you’re supposed to go back to work and function on the same level (or better!) than you did before you left.
Except. When I went back, my job wasn’t the same.
I’d been demoted.
Try and call it anything else (restructuring, revamping, reorganizing), but that’s what it was.
I suppose I’m lucky because I didn’t lose my job. But truthfully, it felt just the same. All the hard work I’d done up until that point had just been shit on while I was gone.
There were many reasons. The biggest was, “We had to make some decisions while you were gone due to some unforeseen management changes.” These management changes made it clear that I was not as integral as I thought I was. They didn’t feel as strongly about my commitment to the company as I did.
For the first few weeks back, I tried to find my new place. I tried really hard. But every day just made me feel like an even bigger pile of shit.
Why am I still here? What am I doing? Should I take some time off and not work at all? (Option number three was not really an option, because we had a newborn and a three-year-old. I had to work.)
So I started to look for something else. I was still in my lack-of-sleep newborn cloud, and managed to find something stable that paid considerably more money and offered pretty good benefits, so I went for it and handed them my two weeks’ notice.
I started my new position in late summer and immediately dove in, trying to distract myself and learn as much as possible. My new team was welcoming and genuine. I went on my first business trip. I learned a lot about the biomedical industry and all the systems and processes that are needed to operate under an FDA-regulated industry.
The first six months of the job were mostly me just learning everything about this new industry and trying to stay afloat at home.
Back to January of 2015
I know now that this time last year I was struggling with some moderate-to-severe PPD. Although when you’re in it, it feels like the worst fucking thing that has ever happened. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me and why I wasn’t happy, and neither could anyone else around me. I mean, there must be something wrong with me because I have a husband and two beautiful boys. A good job with a stable salary and benefits. A warm house. Clothes on my back and food in my belly. I listed these things in my head and knew I should be grateful for all of them, but I still felt nothing.
I cried a lot. A LOT. I was so emotionally drained that I kept getting physically sick. Migraines. Yeast infections. I managed to catch every cold and virus that Alex brought home from daycare the first year.
Finally, in February, I started seeing a therapist. Our sessions started and I went weekly for the first couple months. At the same time, my OB-GYN put me back on my old birth control that I was on for years before the boys were born, and slowly, slowly, my body was starting to feel normal again. (I had my tubes tied with Alex but have crazy irregular periods. Being on birth control offers my body some consistency.)
I wish that I’d started seeing my therapist sooner, but I’m glad I finally went when I did. Unloading everything that was swarming around in my brain was so cathartic, especially since I wasn’t getting an emotional release from writing, which I had all but given up. It took me a few sessions to truly be myself (shits, fucks and all), but once I finally let go and started talking to him about everything, it was so helpful. I told him all about my job and how I missed it and how much I wished I could just get back to that magical place where I loved everything about my life.
He listened without judgement. He listened to me cry and start to shake when I talked about how angry I was. He listened to me gush about how proud I am of Grayson graduating Pre-K and starting kindergarten.
So why write a post about all this?
Mostly because if it can offer some sort of comfort for another mother who might be dealing with post-partum depression, I want her to know that you shouldn’t feel any shame to get help. Getting help allows you to be a better mother and a better person, but you should do it first and foremost for yourself. Also, your recovery won’t look like anyone else’s. It’s not a race. You don’t have to prove anything to anyone else. Give yourself the time and space you need to get better.
Secondly, because I wasn’t completely honest with myself about all the transitions that the last year and a half threw at me. I really, really wanted to have some closure last December when I wrote about the whole situation the first time, but I was kidding myself when I thought I could just let it all go and not think about it. Through the help of therapy, and a considerable effort to practice “living in the present moment,” I’m finally starting to let it all go.
Third, and most important: After a year of continuous sessions with my therapist, my heart is once again full of the things that make me happy. Gratitude. Ambition. Hope. And Most Importantly, Love.