Please excuse any errors. I wrote this at 3am when I couldn’t sleep.
I find it easy to believe that people once believed depression or other mental illnesses were considered a demonic possession. I mean, do you really want to take responsibility for the thoughts of wanting to drown yourself and wonder if anyone would miss you? No, it must be the devil messing with your head. But I didn’t blame any evil forces for those thoughts. I sought professional help. I probably should have also sought spiritual help, but that’s for other issues entirely.
Since being on summer break, I’ve really had the chance to reflect on some of the differences in my postnatal life with Bennett compared to Adelyn. The first and biggest was being emitted back into the hospital the day after being released and told I would be separated from my newborn son. My logical side knew how dangerous my condition was, but that didn’t mean my emotional side could process what I was going through. Instead of trusting the healing process and getting better, I was bitter. I was alone in a place I detest and fear. To make matters worse, I was about to spend my 36th birthday alone. I have issues with my birthday. My cousin died on my birthday. I’ve had multiple years of people being flaky and disappointing me that I would leave the state so no one could make me feel less on an already horrible day. Physically I was recovering, while mentally, I felt myself breaking and falling apart the longer I stayed in bed with wires attached.
When I came home, I didn’t trust myself to be alone. I knew something was wrong. I loved my children and husband but felt like a shell of myself. There were a lot of moments that I know were faked. Holidays were taxing. Finances were tight. I was only bringing home 60% of my paycheck, and the extra insurance I’d been paying for the last three years just told me my coverage didn’t cover C-sections. Apparently, to them, they were an elected surgery, and they didn’t pay out the hospital stay like they would have if I had a vaginal birth. So that was 600 dollars I had budgeted that disappeared along with three years’ worth of payments.
Instead of thoroughly enjoying the time with my family, I was bombarded with emails and text messages from my students. The person left in charge was less than a glorified babysitter. He didn’t assign the detailed work I left, and the chaos students shared made me feel like I failed them. I know I couldn’t pick their sub, but good Lord, it weighed on me.
For nearly two months, I was at my doctor’s office battling an infection in my incision. Apparently, a small part of my body was reflecting the stitches. There was a laundry list of other things my body was doing, but I don’t fully remember them. I remember thinking everything was happening so fast and slow all at once. I remember, at three weeks, I was sitting in my doctor’s office telling her about how I needed something. Something to help me heal the wounds that no one could see. She said I couldn’t take anything while breastfeeding. I guess my body knew this before I did because my milk had dried up two days before the appointment.
I was nervous about taking a daily antidepressant. I didn’t want to lose myself. But the little voice of my logical self reminded me I was already lost. The shell I was presenting to the world wasn’t me. She ordered me Zoloft. I was warned about weight gain, and it possibly blocking my ability to climax, but I should feel like myself again. I had to fight with the crazy person inside my head, telling her that I could return to normal. Things would just have to change.
Slowly the unexplainable tears stopped. I was more in control of myself. However, instead of weight gain, I had to remind myself to eat. I was dropping weight fast and waiting to the point where I would get dizzy and nearly pass out. Being an appetite suppressant is not one of the side effects; however, I got it. When my cycle finally returned, my PMDD was under much better control. I was far less of a bitch those few days before my period. But I started noticing something strange.
A girlfriend, who used to be a nurse and was prescribed this drug, warned me about a side effect that the doctor didn’t address. Or maybe I didn’t think it would be an issue. I was starting to forget words. I’ve always had small moments when I forgot a word or two. However, while on this little happy pill, I forgot far more than a word or two. It was slowly progressing and becoming more difficult for me to explain things because it felt like a block between my mind and my mouth. A few weeks ago, it went fast passed word. There were moments in my day gone.
That was it for me. It didn’t matter how stable the medication was making me. What was the point if I had no memory? I no longer wanted to kill myself, and I had picked up my house that my depressed state destroyed. I felt better. So I stopped taking the pill of happiness. I was on the lowest dose, so there was nothing to ween off from.
For the last few weeks, things were good until the other day. Adelyn and I were talking, and she told me how her feelings were hurt by someone she thought was her friend. The friend said some really nasty stuff. It reminded me of the fake people I’ve encountered in myself. Only I was much older than her. I had to hold back tears because I hurt so much for her. I never wanted her to feel that way, especially at six years old.
The over feeling of sadness for others’ pain was something new and definitely not something I felt while taking the medication. I’m not sure how I would have felt on the pill. That mental state already feels like years ago.
I’ve also started to dream again. My dreams stopped after having my son. I guess being trapped in a hospital for a week was a living nightmare that my imagination didn’t think it could do better. While on the pill, I’d have dreams but not remember them. They would fade away as soon as I would wake up. Now I’ve returned to the moves that fill my head. Only they are disjointed and not yet useful for me. I wonder, once my brain is fully detoxed, what weird shit it’ll come up with.
But being off the happy pill has brought back my PMDD. I was not prepared for the emotions to be so strong. The rage is the worst. Everyone is doing something wrong by existing. I’m trying my best not to lash out. The kids do not deserve it. It’s not their fault their mother is unstable. I guess that’s why God gave me Bennett.
He’s the happiest little chunk. However, the only time he truly cries and gets upset is when others raise their voice or cry. Bennett is pure innocence. He’s a baby who only knows love, and when others are upset, he doesn’t understand why and will cry too.
I’ve had a few small outbursts that have brought him to tears. It has broken my heart, but it has also quickly changed my mindset. I can’t stay in the negative space because I have to comfort him. And it has to be me because he’s a pure momma’s boy, and Dad just isn’t good enough. Even though his first word was daddy… Which he said clear as day, yelling at Tyler.
So now I’m learning how to be me again without the outside chemical change. It’s uncomfortable, but I no longer feel like I’m fighting a demon whose main goal was to take me to the underworld. The only monster is me, and learning how not to release the angry red panda on my kids or husband. I’ll get through it. I’ve already survived once I know I’ll do it again.