Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Better living through chemistry, or, Fuck you, Tom Cruise.

Since I started this blog, a couple of friends have remarked (positively) on my willingness to write so openly about suffering from depression. I don't do it as a badge of honor, to provide a PSA, or as part of championing a cause or anything like that. But it's part of me and when it creeps up on me, it's what I'm thinking about. And as a result, what I'm writing about.

I'm not embarrassed or ashamed of it. Like all fucked-up adults, I just blame my parents.*

But being unexpectedly hit with post-partum depression brought on a great deal of shame on my part. I didn't have PPD with Zeke, and managed to last almost 2 months after Josie before it reared its ugly head. I think going back to work, with all of the stresses that brought, finally put me over the edge.

And what a horrifying, unnerving edge it was. Because for a couple of days, I was convinced I was a monster who had no love - or any regard, truthfully - for my newborn daughter. Or anyone in my immediate family, for that matter.

As it always does, the onset of depression brought crushing insomnia with it. So many nights last week, I would lie in bed, wide awake for hours during the dead of night, cursing my husband and my children. Wishing I was single and childless again. Resenting them for heaping upon me the responsibilities of maintaining a household and tending to them, and for robbing me of any shred of free time.

But really, it was even worse than that. Resentment and exhaustion are to be expected. But in those dark, bleak stretches of sleeplessness, I found myself wishing them ill. Going through "what-ifs" too horrible to contemplate in the light of day. Fatal accidents. SIDS. Awful events that would liberate me.

It pains me to admit these things.

It passed, of course. Things are somehow never as grim in the morning. Still, I was shaken. I sat at my desk last Friday, weeping and feeling evil. My mother and Kathleen both helped talk me off the ledge, as did Jason and my Facebook buddies.

But really, they only reinforced what I already knew. I was not well, and I needed to do something about it.

I will say this for myself: I may be crazy, but I also am keenly aware of when the craziness is coming on. I've dealt with depression for so long, and am blessed (or perhaps cursed) with such an overdeveloped sense of self-awareness, that I can feel the spiral almost the minute it starts to pitch rapidly downward.

Luckily, I had a Zoloft prescription that I had neglected to fill for a couple of months, so all I had to do was call Walgreen's. As ever, the act of taking a step toward feeling better was as much of a remedy as the pills themselves.

It's been about 4 days now, and I feel fine. I look at Josie and marvel at how pretty she's getting. I coo at her and talk to her and feel the love that I know was there all along.

But Jesus, I frightened myself for a while there.

*I kid, I kid. Though it is definitely inherited from my dad and our long line of bat-shit lunatic ancestors.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Housekeeping matter

FYI: I've been suddenly been getting a ton of comment spam, so I've turned on the word verification feature for leaving comments.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Back at it

I started back at work yesterday.

I can say one thing with absolute certainty. Taking care of a newborn and a two year old while holding down a full time job, with a husband who is out of town four days a week, is exhausting. Physically, mentally, and every other way.

I'm tired. And stressed.

Work is fine. The children are fine. Everything is fine. But I'm tired. I feel like I'm on a treadmill, or in a hamster wheel or something.

I hit the ground running at 6 or 6:30 in the morning, and I get the children up, dressed, and fed, in jackets and snowsuits, into car seats, out of car seats, into the day care, and then off to work. I try to get home to exercise at lunch, but try not to be away from work for more than an hour. I leave to pick up the children at around 5, get them home, and then spend the next 3 hours feeding children, playing with children, wiping tears, bathing children, changing poopy diapers, putting children in pajamas, singing children to sleep, and then chasing them down (or rather, chasing one of them down) when he keeps getting out of bed as he tries to negotiate more songs, more stories, more bottle, more Mommy, more more more. All while trying to lose 20 pounds of baby weight by doing Weight Watchers.

By the time the children are asleep, I'm so fried and mentally strung out that I can't even relax. I sleep with one ear trained on the baby monitor, waiting for one or both of the children to start crying.

And Josie is actually a great sleeper. She has slept through the night with increasing frequency, and even when she doesn't, she sleeps at least 5 or 6 hours at a stretch. But I can't relax.

At least my reaction to stress is to completely lose my appetite. So losing the weight won't be hard. But I would trade slower weight loss for a little peace of mind.

And yet, my life is fine. I have beautiful, healthy children, a husband that loves me, a good job with people that I like, a roof over my head, food on the table, blah blah blah. I feel like an asshole for complaining. So many people have it so much worse than I do.

But many nights, when Zeke is crusty because he's tired and wanting my undivided attention and I can't give it and Josie won't settle down when I want her to, I just want to run away.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Sunday nights

It's kind of like being in a long distance relationship.

Jason comes home for the weekend on Thursday nights, and leaves early early early (he gets up at 3:30 a.m.) Monday mornings to drive back up to Vail. He comes home on Tuesday nights after work, only to turn around and drive back on Wednesday mornings. So really, Zeke and I get about 2 hours with him on Tuesdays, and that's it. It does break up the week, but the weekend is what we live for.

It's hard on me, not only because I miss my husband during the week, but also because I never get a break from the childcare duties. I get exhausted and impatient and I feel like all I want is to escape to a deserted island where no one is tugging at me, seeking food or a bath or toys or even just my attention.

And it's really hard on Zeke, because he loves his daddy so much, and misses him terribly when he's not around. I think the time away from Jason, and having me say in response to a pleading, "Daddy? Daddy home?", that "Daddy will be home tomorrow," or "Daddy will be home later," or "Daddy will be home soon," is giving Zeke an understanding of temporal concepts that are a bit advanced for his age.

Being on maternity leave has been nice in that we can spend all day Friday together. So the weekend feels really long. We pack the time with fun things like outings to the zoo or the aquarium or the park, or, newly added today to the repertoire, the science museum. We get together with friends and family for dinner. Jason plays with Zeke constantly, rough-housing and bouncing on the couch and running around being silly. Jason and I take advantage of the daycare's "parents' night out" program, in which they provide super-cheap babysitting on the second Saturday of every month so that the parents can get in some time alone, knowing that their children are in the care of familiar, trained, and responsible caregivers.

But Sunday night inevitably and inexorably rolls back around. And I get depressed. And Jason gets moody. And we cling to each other a little bit.

Tuesday night is only two days away. And my cousin is living with us for a little while, so I have some company and an extra pair of adult hands and eyes to help with the children. Zeke totally adores him, so it's nice for him to have another big strong man to throw him around.

But still. It's not the same.

Jason went to bed a couple of hours ago, so that the 3:30 alarm wouldn't be completely brutal. Josie had a hard time settling down, so I stayed up rocking her and watching the season finale of Mad Men.

That familiar heaviness in my heart is settling in. I'll wake up for a second when the alarm goes off, and Jason will give me a kiss goodbye, and then will call me or text me a few hours later to let me know he arrived safely. In the morning, Zeke will come into my room and crawl into bed with me.

"Hi, Mama. Snungle?" he asks, using his crazy-cute iteration of "snuggle."

"Good morning, angel. Come snungle with Mama."

We cuddle up, arms wrapped around each other.


"No, honey, Daddy's not here. Daddy had to go to work. He'll be back tomorrow. He misses you very much."

The countdown to Tuesday begins.