Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Dear Travis: I am so sorry.

I wrote this back in November of last year. Right before I finally got help for my post partum depression with Travis.

I sat in the dark watching an episode of 16 and pregnant, remarking to myself what a good mother this little girl was.

A much better mother than me. To my son. Because I've been in a very dark place.

I have been making excuse after excuse.

I just need him to sleep better.
I just need him to stop crying.
I just need a minute to myself.
I just need to be able to run once in a while.
I just need the screaming to stop.
I just need him to smile.
I just need him to be older.
I just need to go back to work.

I just need help.

I only have a few weeks of maternity leave left. I couldn't think of a single picture I wanted to have printed to bring to work with me, to put up in my cube so I can see his smiling face all day. Because there aren't any pictures of smiling faces. There aren't many pictures, period.
There are no pictures of the two of us.

I've never made any apologies about not liking the newborn stage. I've never been particularly interested in anyone elses infant. It takes me a bit of time to fall in love, even with my own children. But this was taking far too long.

I worried about his development. How he doesn't seem to interact much.

I'm not interacting much.

Post partum depression is suffocating and it's isolating. Even though I know all the warning signs, even though I knew early on I was dealing with a whopper of PPD, even though I've been to therapy for other reasons and think therapy is the bomb, even though I've been on antidepressants before, even though I firmly think people should seek help when they need it and not be embarrassed at all, even though I know all of that...I still couldn't make the step. I don't know why. I have no idea why. I have no idea why I have robbed my son of the mother I know I am by not getting help sooner. I have no idea why I've put myself through weeks of depression, frustration, anger and enormous irritation at the slightest provocation. I have no idea why I've put my husband and daughter through this. I have no idea why it was so bad this time. No idea why I let this cloud get darker and darker and big enough to strangle me and take all of the life out of me.

Then I realized. I had an idea why. Why I didn't get help when I knew I needed it.

What if? What if the anti depressants don't work? What if therapy doesn't work? What if I really am just that unhappy with the live I wanted, needed, desired, worked for. What if? What if this can't be fixed? It's much like infertility treatment. It's difficult to take that last step, because it is the last step. If IVF doesn't work, we have nowhere to go. So you postpone doing IVF. Because you're not ready to not have any more options. I wasn't ready to consider the alternatives to meds and treatment not taking me out of this depression. So instead of giving them the chance to fail, I did nothing.

I was only able to write that because at that point I had started taking anti depressants. Which helped immensely. It was a night and day difference and I stayed on them for several months after.

I truly still cannot put into words the black hole I found myself in after Travis was born. I have never, ever been so unhappy, depressed, alone...honestly it felt like a constant state of utter despair.

But enough about me. I went through what hundreds of thousands of women go through after having a child, finally got help and am myself again. But I do still struggle with the fact that I didn't get help sooner, because I completely robbed Travis of any sort of a mother for 3 months. I was useless. I couldn't tell him I loved him without it being completely forced. I went through the motions and did what I had to without interacting with him. I didn't hurt him, but I didn't care for him the way he should have been. I didn't cuddle him. I didn't take pictures. I didn't sing. I didn't smother him with kisses. I was in such a state of depression that I was a terrible, terrible mother and I think I will always feel incredibly guilty for that. I find myself trying to steal a minute or two alone with him each day just so I can kiss his adorable cheeks and make him giggle, as if that's making up for me not being there for him when he was an infant. I know he won't ever really remember that. But I do. And I always will. And for that Travis, I am so sorry.


That Uncomfortable Itch said...

One of the things about PPD is that even when we are in that trough the effort of getting out is so huge. It's so wonderful when you do get our and you truly see the wonderful, amazing person/people in your world.

Brakes and Gas said...

Thank you for writing this. I finally called a therapist today and while I too think therapy is "the bomb" I am ashamed that it took me 3 weeks after the onset of my postpartum issues to seek help. I feel like such a hypocrite. Reading about your experience reminds me that I am doing the right thing. I very much admire you. Thank you.

Lesley Schooler said...

What a moving post. I too had severe PPD after my son was born and didn't seek help for 9 months - way too long. I always look back at the first 9 months of his life with such regret because I wasn't the mother he deserved. PPD is so challenging.

The GVZs said...

Thanks for this. You articulated the reason why we never went to marriage counseling when things got really bad (even though we needed it, and probably to some extent, still do). What do you do when it doesn't work?

I am glad the meds worked. There's nothing for you to apologize for.

Joyce Batens said...

Thank you for sharing your story. I suffered from PPD when I had my daughter and it was a struggle everyday to overcome the depression. Luckily I received help and am doing better now.
For more about PPD treatment : http://onlineceucredit.com/edu/social-work-ceus-ppd