Depression: sneaky, strong, and silent. It creeps back in when you aren’t looking and then before you know it, it’s there. It defeats you with persistence and shame.
Socially we’ve gotten better at being open about mental health issues but I suspect on for some people on some level, it’s merely an effort to save face. On Bell’s ‘Let’s Talk’ day everyone is sharing and supporting but for the other 364 days of the year? Only quiet.
Yesterday I overheard someone say they don’t “believe” in postpartum depression. I wasn’t part of the conversation (yes, I was eavesdropping but it was in public and said person was not trying to be quiet) but I was shocked and angered. The person making this claim does not have children and to my knowledge has never been pregnant or given birth. Granted I don’t know that for certain but I’m fairly confident.
I’m also fairly confident said person hasn’t changed hairstyles since high school.
Cattiness aside, I thought about how far we have supposedly come but just how much farther we have to go. If someone/anyone is willing to undermine and devalue something like the validity of postpartum depression why do we expect anyone else (read: all of society/men) to ‘believe’.
You can’t choose whether or not you believe in depression anymore than you choose to believe in cancer. Both are awful vicious diseases. Both can be fatal. Both are ugly and both can change lives forever.
Yet here was an educated adult saying she doesn’t believe in depression and that any woman who says she is suffering from post-partum “wasn’t ready to have a baby”. Bitch, no.
I myself did not have post partum depression and consider myself fortunate given the fact I currently take antidepressants and have for years (but not until after my youngest was almost 3). I did have ‘baby blues’ after each of my kids; a day or two of weepiness, but not what would or should be clinically diagnosed as post-partum depression.
I can’t imagine it. Right now, with my youngest child days away from turning 10, as a employed professional who is happily married and in good health? I feel like shit. I feel hopeless. I feel agitated and edgy. I can’t sleep. I can’t stop eating. I feel directionless and lost. My back and neck hurt because my shoulders are back living up under my ears and I have to remind myself, when I toss and turn through the night, to unclench my fists.
I don’t share these things to garner pity – please do not pity me. I share these things because I can’t imagine how much harder it would be to battle back if I was also post-partum: sleep deprived, with a body that is leaking from everywhere and aching, and if a first time mom in particular, completely overwhelmed by it all. I also share these things for anyone out there who might be feeling the same, just simply for you to know you are not the only one.
I don’t know why I’ve succumbed yet again to the slippery slope that is my mental health. I mean there are some stressors at present. My husband has been laid off for almost a year now. He has applied for roughly 19532543 jobs, had some interviews, had some what seemed like “sure things” and yet no such luck as of yet.
We are not starving, we are clothed, we still live indoors and have Netflix. I have not made supper more than once a week or so in months – except for this past weekend when he was away with one of our boys at a hockey tournament – and even then I was no gourmet (read: McDonalds, frozen pizza, KD & hotdogs). He is beyond helpful at home and I 100% believe our boys are really benefitting from having their dad at home full time.
The thing is ‘dad’ is also a skilled worker capable of being a great dad and a gainfully employed person. He’s done it in the past and I know he’ll do it again.
I’m caught between wallowing and trying to pull myself up and out and focus on the good and be grateful. I’m caught between bitter and guilty. It’s all very angst-y. I’m pissed that we’ve never been on a hot holiday (or any holiday as a couple) and that our kids don’t just get to assume we will take a summer holiday but ask in terms of “what ifs” because they know money is tight. I feel guilty because I get caught up in wishing for and wanting more. More money, more vacations, more freedom, more choices.
My logical brain tells me to shut up. There are people with far greater problems in the world. There are people with terminal illnesses, there are mothers and fathers with a child who has a terminal illness, there are 1000s of homeless people, there are Americans…(never have I been so grateful to be a Canadian in all my life). I have 100 things to be grateful for at any given moment but the part of my brain that refuses to cooperate tells me only what’s ‘wrong’.
The one choice I do still have is to keep moving forward. To accept this for what it is and to accept myself for what I am. My other choice is whether or not to speak up and I will always choose to use my voice. My voice will not be silenced in shame based on disbelief. My voice will not be silenced because it makes others uncomfortable. My voice will not be silenced because I am nothing more than a ‘hysterical’ woman. I may be tired, I may be feeling lost, I may be teetering on the edge a little more than usual right now, but I am no less of a person because of any of those things and neither are you.
Our choice as a society is to do our best to make sure no one feels alone. To be educated in our opinions, to keep an open mind, and to be kind. We all have voices and we must not let them be silenced by fear of judgment and naysayers. No, this day and all days, Let’s Talk.