I am not sure why this happens…
As soon as I am ready to announce “I am all better”, I have a setback. Something happens that triggers my anxiety and literally takes me back weeks in my recovery.
This week it was lack of sleep. Scarlet has been waking up in the middle of the night on and off for weeks, but last week was definitely the worst of it. It seemed as though as soon as I finally finished up my things and got into bed she would wake up, screaming, demanding to leave her room and would be up for HOURS. No amount of consoling, bargaining, bribing or yelling would get that kid back in her bed for the night. She literally would stay awake until 4 or 5 am. A couple nights Matt got up early for work and sat with her so I could attempt to get one or two hours of uninterrupted sleep but between her, Emerson still eating in the middle of the night at least once and Autumn getting up at 6:30 it felt like I was up around the clock for days.
I can usually do okay with little sleep – 3 or 4 hours and a pot of coffee and I can get most things done that need to be done.
But not sleeping for longer than an hour without someone waking me up for 3 or 4 nights in a row? Apparently that I can’t handle. I didn’t even notice the depression creeping back up. I knew that I was tired, the kind of tired that coffee can’t fix, but I didn’t realize that other things were falling apart a bit. I took a nap here, a nap there when I could, but then suddenly all I wanted to do was lay on the couch and watch TV. I could barely get out of bed again. I forgot to make dinner. I was questioning everything and losing control of my thoughts again. I was slipping back…
And then the overwhelming anxiety, the fear of never fully getting better came over me and once again I felt like a failure. What in the world is wrong with me that I just can’t seem to get past this and stay there. Why can’t I be like the other moms who are better now, who don’t have setbacks, who don’t worry about everything, who aren’t afraid of themselves. I so desperately want to be me again, to be able to juggle everything without dropping any of the balls, no matter how many there are.
But I am beginning to face the fact that perhaps I never was doing that great of a job at juggling. In the process of keeping everything else up in the air, I forgot about me. When things get overwhelming, when our schedule gets full, I forget that someone still has to take care of the person who is holding it all together. Perhaps it was ignoring my own needs, stuffing away my fears and anxieties that brought me to this breaking point to begin with. Maybe, just maybe, when life gets a little busier, a little more stressful, a little bit overwhelming, I need to make sure that I am putting in extra time taking care of me. I don’t need to feel guilty, I don’t need to feel weak, because in taking care of me, truly taking care of me, I am ensuring that everyone else will continue to be taken care of.
Why is it so difficult for us women to realize that the one person who needs our attention the most sometimes is ourselves? We volunteer our time, services, aid, support and advice to everyone around us, but we ignore our needs. I can’t even tell you how many times that I have given advice to someone that I needed to follow myself…and didn’t.
So, as much of a hell that postpartum depression is – and it is hell, like literally tortuous, never ending, life sucking hell at times, it has opened my eyes to one thing that I had been pretending didn’t exist for so long. It has shown me that I am a person, an individual, a woman, created by God for my own purpose and while that purpose might include being a part of the upbringing of these four beautiful girls, and it may include being the help mate and partner to my amazing husband, it is not solely those things. My purpose, my journey, my path that God has me on is mine alone, and I am deserving of my own attention.