Ever since "coming out" with my battles with crazy pregnancy-induced anxiety and PPD, I've noticed the following: interweb strangers are incredibly forgiving and kind in their comments, and have sent remarkably nice emails that tell me they're thinking of me and hope I'm getting better (thanks, internet friends!), and 99% of the people who know me in real life don't exactly know how to respond, soooooo what if we just pretend we didn't hear about it at all, mmmkay?
I get it, I do. My PPD post wasn't exactly a light-hearted read. It was rough. It was hard to write, and come to terms with what I had been feeling. It was hard to admit publicly because I don't like looking like a hot, filthy mess. I spewed out a lot of ugly, and it was sad and frustrating and awwwwwwwwwwkward to read. Most people who I know read my blog (::waves::) didn't acknowledge my PPD in any way, and that's okay. Really. I don't begrudge anyone their awkward feelings, and I don't blame them. Hell, if I were on your side of the laptop screen, I don't know what I would have done, or how I would have handled it. And for the handful of people who do know me and have hung out with me and had a few or more beers with me, the outreach and kind words you shared with me will stay with me forever. Knowing that real, tangible people had my back and accepted my very human faults and still didn't call child services means so, so much.
So that's why, today, I'm a-pourin' out my heart (and perhaps a glass of wine) and letting you know that most of the time, I'm doing okay.
Admittedly, there are days that suck a little more than the others. Winter wasn't awesome, but I noticed overall that I was doing pretty well compared to the last few winters. I attribute that to the non-winter we had and the less than 12 inches of snow that fell between December and March. SO not complaining about that. And still, despite that, there were days that made it a little harder to wake up and get out of bed, days that were made for being lazy on the couch, and days that I really needed to force myself to put on clothes that weren't pajamas. (It's like there ceased to be a difference between my "awake" clothes and my "asleep" clothes. Damn you, yoga pants.)
I don't cry anymore. (Well, I cry, but not that awful, ugly, crying-for-no-reason PPD cry. I DO have a soul.) I don't flip out when I drop my shampoo bottle in the shower. I shower. I don't pull the covers over my head when Hannah starts crying at dark o'clock in the morning. (Well, I do, but for a completely different reason.) I don't hear "Bad mommy!" when she cries, and I've returned to some of my old habits that fell away when my anxiety started to eat me alive: singing in the shower, singing in the car, dancing in the car, talking to myself, reading for fun, writing, exercising, and overall self-maintenance that should have been taking place but wasn't.
I have a great doctor who likes to tell me I'm not entirely out of the woods, but I'm pretty damn close. He feels that I am still showing some behaviors that are indicative of depression, not necessarily PPD. It's hard to say. I can't quite tell what's what anymore. I have almost always used humor as a way to deflect criticism, or bring it on. Since PPD, that humor's been a little more cutting, and I haven't exactly let that go, but is it a sign of depression? Or is it a nasty habit I picked up and haven't let go? It's one of a few things I'm working on, but most days, I feel whole. I feel like me again.
I know this because a few weeks ago, even when I was sick and achy and probably should have been sleeping, I was reading. Voraciously, even. I know that I'm feeling complete because I'm singing and dancing in the car on my way to work. Yeah, I'm that girl. I know that I'm okay because when Hannah cries out, my first instinct is to hold her and make it better, not to run and hide because I don't know what to do. I know I'm better because when I play with my daughter, I love it. I love spending time with her, and I love watching her discover the world around her. I love making her laugh, and when I'm not with her, I miss her. I know I'm whole because when I hold my daughter, I know what to do. When she reaches for me, I'm not scared I'm going to do something wrong and end up breaking her in two. I know I'm better because I missed my favorite activities. I know I'm better because my productivity at work has skyrocketed. And I know I'm better because I'm not afraid to talk about it. It's okay to talk about it. I generally don't bring it up because it's one topic of conversation that makes people uncomfortable. But if you're reading this and you want to ask how I'm doing? It's okay to ask about the PPD.
A few weeks ago, someone asked me if I was jealous of women who never had PPD. Am I jealous? Hell yes, I'm jealous! I'm angry I had to go through that. I'm mad that I missed out on a few months I'll never get back because I couldn't see straight. I'm mad that I was going through the motions and didn't take away as much as I should have. I'm pissed off that PPD chose me and not someone else. I'm pissed off at people who didn't experience it because it's not fair. Why was I one of the lucky ones? Why me and my family? Damn right, I'm jealous.
I'm also thankful for PPD, if that makes sense. I know I'm not alone, even though so few women talk about it. I know that it's normal for women to go through it, even though each experience with PPD is different. And I'm thankful because I was able to experience it when Hannah was small and fragile, but young enough that she'll never have any memory of it. She'll never remember me crying, afraid to hold her but afraid to let her go. And I'm thankful that I went through it when she was small and tiny and new and blessedly, blessedly boring. If I were in the middle of that hell now, I know that when it was finally over, I'd be so pissed that I missed out on this time when she's exploring her world and so desperately curious about everything she sees. And I think that I treasure these moments a little more because of it.
I find myself looking forward to the next few months. I'm excited about visiting with family again, and I'm counting the days until my next 3-day weekend. I'm not jazzed about Mondays, but I'm also not desperately clinging to the covers and waking up at the last possible second because I can't stomach the thought of facing another day. Am I great? Sometimes. Sometimes not. Am I good? I'm damn good. Not everyday, but most of them.
I'm doing okay. Some days I'm great. Some days I'm lazy. On rare occasions, I feel beige. But if you asked me today, I'm going to say I'm okay. Because I am, and I will be.