Postpartum Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
Postpartum Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Postpartum Congratulations On Having A Baby Good Luck Enjoying Yourself Disorder.
I made that last one up.
The problem with Postpartum Depression is that it’s just one of the pack of mood disorders. Typically the leader, but always with sidekicks.
Anxiety is the annoying friend who shows up uninvited, won’t get out of your face, and always seems to know everything.
OCD hangs out in the corner wearing a leather jacket with tattoos peeking out of the sleeve ready to punch you in the face whenever you forget to count the steps, clean the house in a clockwise pattern instead of counter-clockwise, or sleep for 22 minutes instead of 20 before waking up to check that the baby is still breathing.
PTSD bites her nails, looks over her shoulder, and squeaks like a mouse when someone shuts the door just a little too hard.
Depression, the ring leader, spends about four months deciding to invite everyone out for coffee and donuts at the shop on the corner—where no one will eat the donuts, but everyone will stare out the window wondering why they can’t just smile. The barista, ironically named Society, will check on the table every 30 seconds, reminding you to enjoy this time because it goes by so quickly, passive aggressively suggesting that you should lay off the caffeine.
Because as if it’s not enough to suffer from depression, we need a storm of emotions and obstacles. Constant reminders that we’re not performing to standards. Guilt over crying in the bathroom instead of cooing happily over the newborn.
I wonder, how could my body—my strong, confident, God-given body—let me down? Betray me? Fail me?
It made tiny humans. Brought life into this world. Made breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Grabbed a ball as it was flying in midair toward the just-frosted birthday cake. Ran marathons. Loved a man who loved it back. So why would such a miraculous testament to the accomplishments of the human race throw me hormones, serotonin imbalances, aches and pains, and a never-ending sense of dread?
Why won’t it let me go to sleep when I’ve only got limited time before the baby wakes up again demanding milk? Before another wakes up asking for a glass of water? Before the early bird rises to catch a morning snack?
Why will it only let me laugh briefly at my clumsy toddler before Googling “balance disorders in toddlers”, panicking over the dirty sock he tripped over, and crying because I didn’t pay close enough attention?
Why won’t it let me enjoy family dinner time, hug my husband without flinching from his touch, or sit still enjoying the small breaths of our little miracle?
Why is my day spent navigating the ups and downs of rough emotional mountain terrain while wearing a Moby Wrap, throwing Goldfish into hungry mouths, and changing approximately 6,724 diapers a day (always unhooking the left side first, of course)?
My body let me down. It gave me beautiful miracles. It helped to build a home. It planted seeds to grow food for my family. It drove me to Target. Yet, it won’t let me breath calmly. Smile at my children. Enjoy.
Enjoy this little life. Enjoy these small hands in mine. Enjoy my family.
Instead, I endure the never-ending trial and error that is antidepressant medication. I endure the weekly counseling appointments that take away from my precious vacation time at work. I endure the sideways looks from my family. I endure the comments from strangers when I show my tear-ridden eyes, milk-spoiled shirt, and shaking hands to brave the grocery store.
My body let me down and I am not OK.
It will let me survive. Let me live through the next few months until it evens itself back out.
I won’t enjoy this time—but I will endure.