. . . continued from My PPD Story . . .
My husband’s grandmother lost her in-home caretaker and my mother-in-law volunteered to stay with her while they sought a replacement. Turns out the arrangement was a rather good one and remains indefinite to date. This is wonderful, with the exception that it essentially left the responsibilities of caring for the house and property in my husband’s and my hands, a tremendous task for which we were terribly ill-prepared and completely unsuspecting. Yet, as with most of the undertakings we’ve faced in our marriage thus far, we’re learning.
We were blessed to have different relatives stay with us for various spells while we transitioned to the challenge of caring for our family on our own. Each of those experiences taught us lifelong lessons we hold close to our hearts. Still, having so many people in limited space also posed its own obstacles. Perhaps as a result of turning to one another for comfort during these times, we soon learned I was pregnant once again… except this time, it wasn’t joy I was feeling.
We hadn’t planned on having another child and certainly not so soon. My daughter was only 8 months old; my son was not yet 3. My husband was having difficulty securing steady work, meaning finances were tight and tension was usually high. The chaos at home was already too much for me to handle and I couldn’t imagine adding more. Asking for help didn’t seem a reasonable option: after all, we had gotten ourselves into this mess. Besides, I was already trying to ignore the judgment I felt glaring at us from the sidelines. I relapsed. Any progress that I had made in relieving my depression up to this point vanished and left me in the darkest, loneliest place I have experienced in my lifetime.
After discovering I was pregnant with my third child, I spiraled into a deep depression; one that would not fully lift until after the baby was over a year old. For me, the illness came in waves, knocking me down over and over. I would hit what felt like rock-bottom, only to discover there was further to fall. I was paralyzed from even the simple tasks of everyday life by the heaviness of my sickness and so I would often retreat into comfortable isolation.
Whenever I felt a rage coursing through my veins that I could neither control nor understand, I would lock myself in my bathroom or bedroom in an effort to barricade myself from my family. I swore to myself that I would not hurt anyone or damage any (more) of our stuff. I wanted to scream, punch the walls, tear at the fixtures and kick in the door. I wanted to run, very fast and very far away. But I couldn’t run; I couldn’t leave. I had babies who needed me. All. The. Time. Humans whose lives depended on me upholding my responsibilities. After all, I’m The Mom.
Whenever anxiety blanketed me, the intense emotion would pulsate through every inch of my body, the blood rushing to my tear-swollen face, until I was sure that it had reached its maximum capacity and would just explode me into a million pieces. I’d let out a scream, sink into the fetal position on the floor, and begin sobbing uncontrollably. I was gone; disconnected from my world and everyone in it, unable to communicate or even comprehend what was happening inside me.
I lost months – years, maybe – to this illness. I often yearned to be alone. Thrusting my parental responsibilities onto my husband, I’d seclude myself to the darkness in my mind. I’d drive aimlessly, not wanting to be anywhere or see anyone; feeling trapped inside my head. Or I would park next to the river and contemplate my place in this world, ponder my worth and whether I had any as I let my pain stream down my face.
I found myself increasingly exposing my bleeding heart to my husband, looking to him to release me from my self-imposed prison; begging him to give me a way out of my misery and leaving him speechless and no doubt feeling alone and scared when nothing he tried would work. Neither of us knew what to do – how to “make it better” so to speak. Many times I felt the only reason I continued living was because of the growing life inside of me. A life I increasingly felt I didn’t deserve.
. . . to be continued . . .