One Day at a Time

My goal going into this thing is to be as real as possible. Vulnerability isn’t my strong suit. Although I often hide behind a facade of jokes and goofiness, I rarely dig deep and let others see that side of me. Starting off with such a heavy post wasn’t what I had planned, but this is where I am.  So here it is.

It’s been three months since I met the newest member of our family. I held my sweet baby in my arms and fell in love for the third time with one of my little creations. I stared at her tiny mouth and chubby cheeks and was more amused than I should be at her little grunts and squirms. But then I was thrown back into the swing of daily life, and all of those magical moments seemed lost. Suddenly a tidal wave of guilt and misery swept me away…again.

I’ve had the disease of never feeling good enough my entire life. I’m always besieged with guilt over not doing something right or coming up short in yet another area, but it’s something I’ve learned to live with overall. Except after babies. After I have a baby, the blues come in deep and heavy and that disease grows into a giant monster, ready to swallow me whole. Feelings of inadequacy become incessant assaults on my daily life, on my whole self. “Why can’t I enjoy my children like other mothers seem to do?” “They’d be better off without me.” “I have no patience; I’m ruining my kids.”  “I suck at crafting with my kids. They probably think I hate them.” “Why are you so fat? Other moms lose the weight…” Basically “Mommy Guilt” goes to a whole new level combined with a complete kung fu battle on everything about me. My house is in a disarray and there are days where my kids survive off of little more than snacks that I throw in their general direction. I sit there feeding the baby, staring at the mess, and wondering what in the world is wrong with me.

I understand that there is always an adjustment period after having a baby. Finding a routine and ironing out the kinks just comes with the territory, but this is something deeper, more debilitating. My normal self is lost, hidden beneath the overbearing weight of inadequacy. Of less than. Of worthlessness.

It isn’t all bad. There are moments of light amongst the gloom. A good day pops up here or there and I can suddenly breathe again. My sister and I get goofy and I can let loose. A friend will let me overstay my welcome and I can escape the constant verbal assault I give myself for at least a few hours. My husband will sense my pain and put off much needed studying in order to keep me company and watch a movie he has no interest in watching. If it weren’t for those days, I don’t know how I’d make it.

I’ve been through it twice before, so I know eventually, I will begin to feel normal again. One day my laugh won’t feel forced, I won’t be fumbling for the words when talking to people, and I will be able to feel whole again. I’ll be able to see my sweet babies and not feel guilty for not enjoying them like I should or wanting to run away much more than is normal. Until then, my daily mantra becomes, “It will pass. Just get through today.” And sometimes that’s all we can hope for, making it through the day.

So I suppose I’m writing this not only as a catharsis for myself, but for solidarity’s sake. You are not alone. If you have ever gone to bed feeling like you weren’t enough. You are. We are. We can do this. We’ll survive by making it one day at a time. Together.

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4 thoughts on “One Day at a Time

  1. Brianne, I’ve been there, after my last baby. Didn’t know what had hit me. It was only 6 months later, after I was pretty much recovered, that I learned about postpartum depression. It was one if the hardest experiences of my life, because it didn’t make sense that I was feeling the way I was. Now I know depression doesn’t make sense. You will get through this and your children will be fine. So glad you have an understanding husband. Hope you have a friend who’s good at listening. I love you.

    1. Rachel, thank you for your response, love, and support. It usually passes for me around 6-9 months, so thankfully I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I’m blessed to have a good support system and that definitely helps. You and Liz are people who will always be near and dear to my heart!

  2. Hi lady! I can relate. I’ve dealt with depression at various times throughout my life, but the postpartum depression after my first kid knocked my socks off. It was shocking and sudden. I didn’t know what was happening. I just had an intense feeling of inadequacy, an inability to bond, and a strong desire to put my sweet baby up for adoption and run away. No one had told me about postpartum depression before, and I was too ashamed to share my thoughts with anyone but my husband. I just thought I was a horrible person. I toughed it out, and it lasted for about 9 months. It was awful! I didn’t make sense of the whole thing until about 18 months after she was born.

    In any case, I am prone to anxiety and seasonal depression as well, which is joy stealing in other ways. Looking back, I think I’ve spent the vast majority of my life in clinical states of depression. When I was 24, I committed myself to find a way to deal with my depression once and for all.

    I tend to be granola and really wanted to avoid pharmaceuticals. I researched and put things into practice. I’ve exercised throughout my life but really made it a priority. I forced myself to be social even when I felt stupid and awkward. I tried St. John’s Wart and SAM-e and had some success, but I also had some side effects. Finally, I tried fish oil. It was so successful, I stopped the St. John’s Wart and SAM-e. I’ve been on it since (during pregnancy and nursing too) and have not had depression.

    There are times I feel sad, unmotivated, or blue… but nothing like clinical depression. Of course, everyone’s different and if someone is on medication, they should never stop without consulting their MD, but it is definitely worth a try.

    There’s a really good TED Talk by Dr. Stephen Ilardi where he discusses it, and there are some peer reviewed articles on the success of fish oil. There are some caveats. Like the dose needs to be high, the EPA level needs to be to a certain amount, etc. but when you get it right, it is super effective. Plus it’s good for your heart, eyes, joints, etc.

    I’ll PM you some particulars. Hang in there momma!

    1. Thanks, Randelle! I’m managing okay. This was just insight into some of my hardest days, they come much more often than usual in these few months after giving birth. I’ve tried the fish oil previously and it didn’t seem to do much, but I should probably look into it again. I’m pretty sure once my hormones level out again, I’ll be okay. I’m trying to get back into working out and eating better, which helps a little. But eith postpartum depression, I’ve found that the normal cognitive behavioral approaches aren’t as effective as they are otherwise. Those hormones really mess me up. Lol. Thank you so much for your support and love. You are awesome! I’m going to look up that TED talk! 😊😉

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