I truly am so much better, so healed compared to how I was this time last year (read: swamped by postpartum depression and barely holding myself together), but healing from any illness is a process that takes time blah blah blah. As I have mentioned before, patience is perhaps not one of my gifts.
Mostly, I am fine. I can handle my daily challenges and tasks (as well as anyone handles three small children, homeschooling, and the rest of a mother's life). I feel hopeful about the future. My emotional responses to situations are appropriate. My internal chatter is mostly positive. But sometimes, like this week, it all slips right out of my hands and I feel like I may never be free of this thing - this postpartum depression.
I felt it building up. Small irritations sticking like burrs on the inside of my socks. Feeling too tired to properly respond to the millions of wants and needs of my little herd. Using my voice harshly to discipline. And then the guilt. This is the point where I know I'm really in trouble. We all have bad days, but when I start to wallow in guilt over my failures as a mother, I become stuck in a thought cycle that wrings me of all joy and hope. Take about desperate.
Because I hate that my children, particularly Ava, have seen me cry so much. I hate that I have hurried and shushed and badgered unnecessarily because I simply could not handle their childishness one.more.second. I hate that "the best I can do" is so often turn on the tv and go sob around the corner. And I hate to even consider the damage my instability has done to my sweet children - to my daughter, who already displays a painful perfectionism that sometimes paralyzes her.
But I am getting better, and my children will also heal if healing is needed. I will not stay stuck in the "what ifs." So, this time, after a day or two of misery, I started acknowledging what I was going through and gathering help. My normal tendency is to hunker down in a quiet place and be as alone as possible, but I've learned that doesn't help me when I'm stuck in a depression low. So I called up people and had someone at my house most of the day Thursday, and part of Friday, as well as going to a friend's house for lunch and a play-date. My niece, who is a college student, amazingly came and watched my kids all afternoon on Thursday, so I could take myself somewhere to breathe. I wanted to stay home and go to bed early, but I was a good girl, and made myself go to my PPD support group meeting Thursday night. All of these things helped so much more than I could have guessed. Even after fighting this illness on and off for years, I still don't always realize how powerful a simple text message, or visit from a friend can be.
This week I also started reading Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe, a book that I think might be one of the best books for moms I've ever read. Taking the time to read this book was one of the steps of my recovery this week. The combination of the feelings and thoughts of Sarah Mae, a young woman on the front lines of mothering, and the wisdom and gentle encouragement of an experienced mother like Sally Clarkson make this book readable, relatable, and profoundly encouraging.
I think there is a kind of situational depression and burnout that many mothers experience that doesn't quite fall under the umbrella of clinical depression, but still drastically affects their ability to function well and experience joy. If that sounds like you, or someone you know, there is a great chance this book can help. I have read other Sally Clarkson books and reveled in her strategic ideas and mentoring words, but this new book Desperate is my favorite, and I know it will be the encouragement that so many weary mothers need to soldier on.
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