Guest Post 4: Acceptance is the first step

28 Aug

Today’s guest post is from Leanne. I remember first meeting Leanne on Blogging Baby, a place I began to affectionately refer to as “Troll Heaven”. She stood out for her passionate defense of mothers and natural childbirth, as well as good ole common sense. I also met Karrie, and Eden and Jen and others there, so I guess it wasn’t that bad.

 

 

It sounds weird to say “I have depression.” It’s like saying I have a hangnail; it’s just an annoyance, a fact of existence. I also have flat hair and stretch marks, pelvic floor damage and fallen arches.

I’m not depressed. Well, not today. Much of the time I feel what I think is normal: content, interested in the world, grateful for my family, satisfied with this or that accomplishment.

The other times, I feel an over-arching sense of foreboding, like I’ve done something very wrong. I feel pissed off at my children for not being more compliant, at my husband for not being more in tune with the needs of our home life, at myself for being a failure. I’m impatient and unkind.

In these moments I rage, I yell, I say nasty things and swear a lot. I hold grudges and pull away from the world, hoping that all my problems and stresses will go away if only I hide well enough.

My poor kids. My poor husband.

I should go see someone, shouldn’t I? It’s not really normal to feel like that, is it? I feel like my barometer for judging whether or not I’m *really* depressed is damaged. Between my emotionally abusive parents (my father helpfully pointed out he reason why my first love broke up with me, when I was 16, was because I was a bitch. Thanks Dad! Love you, asshole!) and 8 years of mental abuse by the Catholic church (those feelings you are having are wrong and if you don’t repent you will go to Hell!), I feel like I’m just a burden, that I should just get over myself and stop navel gazing. My needs are no priority of anyone’s. My emotional reality merely a nuisance to everyone, including myself.

So, I should see someone, right? But, I have these two children to look after. I don’t have time to go to the doctor and then have her recommend me to a specialist and then wait for a specialist appointment and then go to the specialist and tell my story *again*. What a hassle!

There is a women’s mental health clinic I could self refer to, but that’s for women with *real* problems. I don’t want to kill myself. OK, I don’t *really* want to kill myself. Sure, sometimes I fantasize about not existing, but that doesn’t make me suicidal, right? I mean, I’d never leave my children. I’d never leave my husband. I’d never actually cause myself any kind of actual pain or harm. I’m too much of a wimp to do that (which, as an aside, is kinda funny, because I can totally have multiple non-medicated births which is torture level pain that goes on for half a day, but the idea of taking a knife to my wrists or taking pills that would make me cramp fills me with horror!).

I don’t have the kind of problems that require intervention and therapy. But, then there are those days when I am sobbing to my husband that I can no longer cope. There are those days when I am so shrill with my children I can see how my behaviour has shaped theirs. There is that shame I walk around with that I have become my mother.

Oh sure, I don’t hide in bed all day like she did, unable to face her responsibilities, her life. But I yell like her. I’m fat like her. I’m in my pyjamas most of the day, like her. And, if I don’t stop this bullshit now and heal myself, heal my family, my son will grow up to be just like me. My husband will stop caring just like my dad. I will feel miserable for most of my life.

And yet, I just keep trudging along, never really moving forward. Able to understand the entire situation in an intellectual way, but shackled emotionally so that I never improve, never get help.

I shouldn’t be living like this, should I?

Leanne is the mother of two, husband of one, doula to many and writes on The Clever Mom (www.theclevermom.com), Momcast (momcast.blogspot.com) and Vegetarian Moms (vegetarianmoms.wordpress.com).

She is almost ready to treat her depression.

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4 Responses to “Guest Post 4: Acceptance is the first step”

  1. Jen August 28, 2008 at 9:59 am #

    This. Thank you for writing this, Leanne. I identify more than I’d like to admit, right down to the not getting help because I don’t feel like I have ‘real problems’. I don’t know if I’m ready to seek treatment but I think you just got me a step closer.

  2. mamaloo August 28, 2008 at 10:56 am #

    Jen, thank you. The feeling is reciprocal.

    This felt dangerous to write. I feel deeply unburdened and yet expectant.

    P.S. I misspelled my own website name! It’s The Clever Mom: http://www.theclevermom.com. Duh!

  3. summer August 28, 2008 at 11:15 am #

    wow this really resonated. I keep blaming PPD and maybe it is but does that mean you don’t get help and just wait hoping it will go away on its own? You made me think. Thank you.

  4. Marcy August 28, 2008 at 6:04 pm #

    Oh wow. Sounds so like me before I started therapy the first time, and even often now that I am returning to therapy for a third time. I have usually been very high-functioning, and so no one (including me) thought therapy would be necessary. But oh my goodness, it does help! (I tell myself that, and review my history to see the evidence, when I worry that I shouldn’t keep needing more therapy.) Go for it — be patient and take the time to find someone who’s worth seeing.

    Summer, PPD made my depression and anxiety worse than it was before pregnancy, even when the PPD bit was over. “Just” PPD doesn’t have to mean not getting help, though.

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