So, I had a thing for awhile. And I didn’t know I had it for…well, awhile. And then when I figured it out, I dealt with it for another year-ish, realizing to some extent that it’s never going to entirely go away.
Kids, I had postpartum depression and anxiety.
It was…horrible. Like really horrible. Hor-ree-bleh. Once I got my diagnosis, I didn’t exactly hide what was going on. I gave it a name. I told other people the name. But I didn’t really talk to a ton of people about what it was like. What it felt like. What it made my brain do.
Now I feel like it’s time.
See, I’m pregnant again. (first: YAY! but also…well, keep reading). I’m at risk of the horrible thing happening. Again. In fact, it’s starting to creep up on me already.
Two weeks ago, I was driving home after work, listening to It’s Been a Minute with Sam Sanders. They end every podcast with people who call in to share the best part of their week. I typically enjoy this segment but this time I rolled my eyes. I had not had the best week. The morning sickness had been coming at all hours of the day. I had to run out of meetings at work to go retch in the bathroom. Even the mere notion of certain foods made me gag. As the cheery parade of voices bubbled through my car speakers, I thought to myself, “the best part of my week was eating dry toast without throwing up.” And then immediately after that, I heard a voice in my brain say, “you stupid bitch, you can’t even handle the first trimester. You’re going to royally fuck up everything once THIS kid gets here.” I gasped and locked my hands on the steering wheel. I recognized that voice. I had heard it before. That’s what my PPD was: the darkest things I didn’t know I could think of myself automatically pouring from my brain.
Two weeks ago, I went to brunch with a really good friend at a place that was small and sweet and a little bougie. It was great. We started talking kiddos and she asked if I felt ready to have two. It wasn’t a real question – it was one of those cute topic transitions: “So…are you ready to have two??” Wink, smile, wink.
I smiled and said “Yes, I definitely think so.” At the same time, my brain said “The fuck you are.” My smile froze.“Run,” said my brain and snapped by body into fight-or-flight mode. As my friend, with all the best intentions in the world, talked about her experiences with two and recommendations about preschool and day care, the blood drained out of my brain and drummed in my chest. “Run.” My wrists started to turn numb. “Run.” I pretended to look at my decaf coffee while whatever rational part of my brain was left tried desperately to turn the voice off. The ensuing brain battle was making my eyes burn with tears.
The tears helped, I think, though they just brimmed in my eyeballs instead of falling. I was able to breathe again. I was able to enjoy my friend’s company and some delicious ratatouille toast. But I haven’t been able to shake the knowledge that the darkness is lurking in my brain, waiting for a chance.
I need to take some proactive measures here.
So I’m going to write. I’m going to write about what it was like then. And what it’s like now. It’s going to suck. I’m going to hate it. But hopefully I’ll find some trends or signs I can watch out for. Or maybe it will just help me feel better in some small way. I already know writing can do that for me.
Buckle up, folks, it’s gonna get awkward.