Wednesday, September 10, 2008


In the spirit of full disclosure I'm going to tell you all that I've got a smidge of postpartum depression. I haven't been blogging about it because (honestly) I didn't want my mother to call repeatedly and say, "How are you feeling?" with that fearful tone in her voice. (Mom, I still want to talk to you on the phone and I know you want the best for me--want me to feel well. I'm doing my best. For awhile, just assume that I'm not going to be fully myself.) I've wondered for a bit if I'm struggling with something under the surface. My approach was just to keep doing all the things I knew I should be doing as a well person--going to the gym, cleaning the house, meeting new people. But it just kept getting more and more tiring to do these things, took more and more energy to get me up and going. I do think these things have kept me from falling fully in the hole--that and the anti-depressants I'm already on--but I feel like I've run out of all the reserve I have to keep doing them.

My postpartum coordinator in Durham emailed a link to another blog about ppd (postpartum depression) and reading her experience and her frankness about the way she's feeling motivated me to write also.

And let me say, before we get rolling, that what I'm dealing with isn't the bottom of the barrel. At the ppd support group I used to go to in Durham there were a few women who had really tumbled down the hole. Their experiences were something entirely different than what I've got going. I'm just circling the drain. Most days I function (fairly) normally and only feel moderately crappy. What I'm scared of is completely falling out. For awhile I think I believed that talking about it (or blogging about it) or even thinking about its being ppd would somehow make it more likely. But that's silly. What I was, in fact, doing (I now believe) was ignoring it in the hopes that it would go away.

Yesterday I talked with my ppd coordinator on the phone and one of the questions I had was--is this ppd? Is it just regular adjustment stuff, the regular results of major life changes? Does it matter which? He pointed out that yes, it was quite reasonable for me to be experiencing all kinds of emotional crappy crap because--hello!-- major move, new baby, new job for hubby, trying to finish dissertation, abandonment of career for me, uprooted from everything that's familiar, etc etc. Yet what I described as the struggle seemed to him to be particular to the fact that I'm a new mom.

I've been obsessing. About stupid things. Not sleeping kind of obsessing. Like about which photographs to order of the kids. And then, once I'd made the decision, intense panic that I'd decided the wrong thing. And the gym thing still has me all in a muddle. I'm still going, but I get so anxious around anything to do with it--driving there, taking the kids to kidtown, being in the gym. My ppd fella (interesting that he's a fella, no?) suggested that being a new mom brings forth a desire (or need) to hunker down, to nest, to provide a safe home space to be in with the kids. Perhaps this is why the anxiety came on full force when we were traveling last. I did pretty well until we'd been gone about 10 days, but then it was all too much. Ever since then, ever since we got home, I've been struggling. Now Mitch wants to go see his folks 8 hours away and the idea of another big trip makes my throat close. He got really frustrated with me the other night, saying that I was being so negative about doing things like this, and that's when I started to question myself--why was I being so negative? I liked the idea of the visit, so why did it make my stomach hurt? And it's all made worse by the fact that I can't find the time (and now energy) to organize this house. We're still not fully settled in because when is that supposed to happen??? I have this great big house that I can't clean up or fill up and it's my only island of safety.

So what to do? I don't know. I need to find a counselor. That's one of the first steps. And I think I need to respect my anxiety about going out of my comfort zone. For awhile I was forcing myself to do things (go to the gym, visit other folks I barely know for playdates, berate myself for not wanting to go on a roadtrip) but now I'm going to try to keep my anxiety to a minimum. Perhaps my body knows what I need better than my brain does. Perhaps after a bit of time staying in my safety zone I will feel a bit more confident venturing out of it. That's my newest theory, anyway.

I'll keep all you friends updated. I think it will help me to write about it, to admit what's going on. It still feels like a failure of a kind, though I know intellectually this isn't the case.


Coen Family said...

You are such a great person, I know you'll get through this. It's just a little bump in the road. I really think that in writing about your ppd, you are not only helping yourself, but others as well. Remember, if you need anything, I am always here to talk to.

Love you lots and think about you all the time,

Paige said...

Cali, it's one day at a time. That's all we can do. And if this day in your life needs to be spent hunkering down, then that's what you do. And you don't think about if you're going to hunker tomorrow or the next day - you just hunker today, and decide about tomorrow when tomorrow comes.

And I vote no trip. They can come see you (I know, that's kind of stressful too), or you can see them over the holidays. Or whenever.

Cali said...

Thanks, you guys. I do think that writing about it is good. I keep having this persistent thought that I'm CREATING it somehow just by believing it to be ppd. That I'm choosing it. I know that's crazy. And I don't know where that thought comes from. It doesn't feel good at all: why on earth would I choose it?? (I think I've had that thought before in previous depressive episodes.)
And Paige, I like your thought about hunkering down--that I don't have to commit to more than today. Just one foot in front of the other.
It's good to know you all are pulling for me!