As you might or might not know, I battled depression for a long time. I still do, really. I began to write a comment on her blog post, and I just found that I couldn’t stop. I just kept writing and writing and writing. Before I published it, I paused. Was it really okay to just sort of dump all of this on somebody? And I decided the answer was ‘yes.’ Because I wasn’t just dumping this on anybody. I was telling a story, and it was a story with a moral. A good moral.
And so I share that comment here, with all of you, because I know how many people fight with depression in silence, feeling more isolated and helpless than people who have never experienced depression could possibly imagine.
I write this because, particularly as I find myself struggling occasionally with thoughts that I know are fundamentally depressive thoughts, that suicide is the fifth leading cause of death for pregnant women.
So pregnant mamas, PPD mamas, PPD daddies, and everyone else out there who has ever battled depression, I write this for you as well.
I may have been the youngest goth known to man.
I totally understand.
I have battled depression for basically my whole life. When I was about eight, I stopped sleeping. Just… stopped. Nobody has ever seemed really clear if the depression caused the insomnia, or vice versa, but in either case I found myself contemplating suicide before I was nine. I attempted once, when I was fifteen. It was a genuine attempt, and a miracle that it didn’t succeed. I kept fighting both the depression and the insomnia until I was in my twenties, when after a sexual assault I DID start sleeping, but had chronic and uncontrollable night terrors.
The only thing that helped was meeting my husband, who’s presence in the bed keeps he night terrors away. When he gets up in the night, or wakes up early in the morning, they come back. Still.
That said, I’m doing a lot better. Miraculously, I didn’t have any problems with PPD… or at least, I don’t think I did. I think I had waves of depression that continued from the other waves of depression in my life.
But I can say this, after almost twenty years of fighting depression… it gets easier. It really, truly does.
I can’t tell you how long it takes for it to get easier. In my case, it took about nine years. It never truly went away, but it became… easier.
Dealing with depression is like dealing with losing a limb. You have to relearn to function, and the more vital the limb or more profound the depression, the harder that is. But it does get easier. And then, one day, you realize that you’re actually sort of kind of happy. Inexplicably. And that realization ruins it. But then you have another one. And another.
And then one day you catch yourself worrying about what would happen if you fell in front of that oncoming bus and died, and you think to yourself, “My god was THAT morbid,” and it hits you that you’ve actually been pretty much happy for a long time.
So yes, I still battle my depression. And sometimes, my insomnia. I’ve been on and off a million meds (not one worked for me, and I flat out refused drugs that would be hard to quit if they didn’t work (much to the chagrin of my shrinks)), and I’ve tried a million things to make it go away.
But there are only two things that I know make it go away even a little bit, and I can’t vouch that they’d ever work for another person. And those things are sleeping well, and finding a couple of diversions that actually get you out of your head a little. Hard with kids, I know, but there are some. With kids, one of my new ones is photography (not that I’m any good), and one of my old ones that sticks with me is reading comic books.
I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to learn to live with depression while you’re learning to live as a mom. I can’t imagine how hard it must be to believe that the thing that is making you depressed is something that you love and absolutely cannot quit.
I recommend that you stop thinking about “what is making you depressed,” ever. Because it doesn’t matter what is MAKING you depressed, what matters is how you DEAL with it. And it seems to me, having only just discovered that you exist, that you’re doing a pretty good job.
Sorry to write you a whole novel over here… I just understand how hard this must be, and I really truly sympathize and wish you only the best.
Good luck. And again, I promise… it sucks in the meantime, but it DOES get better.
It really does.
And you’re going to be okay.
LEA GROVER is a writer and toddler-wrangler living on Chicago’s South Side. When she isn’t cultivating an impressive dust bunny collection she waxes philosophic about raising interfaith children, marriage after a terminal cancer diagnosis, and vegetarian cooking. Her blog, Becoming SuperMommy, won second runner up in Blogger Idol, and her work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, The Daily Mail Online, The Chicago Tribune, iVillage Australia, Red Shoes Review, The Dusty Owl Quarterly, and her daughters’ toy refrigerator door. When she isn’t revising her upcoming memoir, she can be found singing opera to her children or smeared to the elbow in Townsend pastels. You can follow her work as Becoming SuperMommy on Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, and @bcmgsupermommy on Twitter.