Friends, I’ve started at least five drafts of this post in the past several weeks. It is an exceedingly difficult topic to face head-on without sounding as if I’m seeking a chorus of validating statements. Please believe me: I’m not. I just think I might feel a little better if I got it out. If you’re not comfortable reading about my (very personal) life please go ahead and navigate away now; I’ll be back with pictures tomorrow.
Kai’s six-month “birthday” was this past week, and it seems impossible that I am not feeling better. In the beginning, I thought I’d feel better when the surgery pain abated and I could start to lift and walk normally again. Then I thought I’d feel better if I could just make enough milk for Kai to be satiated for once. Then I thought I’d feel better if I switched him to formula to guarantee a full belly. Then I thought I’d feel better when I started working again and keeping a regular schedule. Then I thought I’d feel better when we finally had two real (almost) incomes. No…all of these things just bring me guilt and anxiety for failing to max out my attempts at work, at budgeting, at being a good mother.
I thought I’d feel better if I got some nicer clothes that fit me instead of not being able to button all my pre-baby pants and watching my still-quite-pudgy midsection spill over the waistbands. Then I thought I’d feel better if I got a wax, some new facewash, and a lipstick in a pretty red color. Then I thought I’d feel better by throwing myself into (i.e. distracting myself with) a new hobby: photography. No…all of these things cause me to keep desiring more: take more pictures, buy more clothes, download more photo editing apps. I crave newness and novelty to temporarily forget how shitty and dark I feel.
I thought I’d feel better (and maybe sexier?) if I could just try to shave my legs at least every third day. Then I thought I’d feel better if I tried to initiate some lovemaking with my husband despite how I felt about my looks. Then I thought I’d feel better if I let him go down on me (he asked to, no…begged to). Then I thought I’d feel better if I just forgot about sex altogether for a while. No….I wince away from his touch, I can’t bear to look at myself, and I sobbed the entire time he was going down on me until I finally gave up and asked him to stop. My attempts to feel like a sexual and sensual creature again have left me feeling disgusted at and with myself.
I thought I’d feel better once the baby weight started “melting” off like it should (hint: it never did). Then I thought I’d feel better if I started exercising. Then I thought I’d feel better if I started to seek out social dancing again. No…I literally cried of shame and embarrassment before I went for my first post-baby jog (and cried about the prospect for a week beforehand). I have only been outside hoop dancing once, and I can’t bear to bust out my jump rope because I’m too ashamed of jiggling my 35 extra pounds around in front of strangers and our circus colleagues (many of whom are current or former performers and have incredible, strong, beautiful bodies). And forget dancing: I was mortified of my clumsiness and heaviness to the point of tears after most of my dances (hope no one noticed) when I was home in Philly a few weeks ago. The body I’m living in is still that of a stranger’s.
I thought I would feel better if I took anti-depressants…
And I don’t know yet if they work, because I’ve had them for five months and have barely gotten through two months’ worth because I’m afraid of them. Afraid of what they’re doing to my brain. Afraid of how I’ll be affected after the script runs out. Afraid of being dependent on them for…not even happiness, just lack of unhappiness. Because then what? What happens when the best I can hope for is simply lack of unhappiness? Right now I am just floating about…out of ideas for “fixing” my condition and wistfully hoping I’ll just snap out of it one morning (like Joanna did, lucky lucky girl).
I love Kai, but I don’t yet love being a mother. I’m looking forward to the day when that is no longer the case.
Thanks so much for reading, if you made it this far.
Happy Mother’s Day, mamas. You are all heroes to me.
Very important disclaimer: if you are a new mama and struggling with depression so bad that you have entertained the thought of harming yourself, your baby, or someone else, PLEASE get yourself to your doctor or the emergency room, pronto.