There’s this thing that happens when my postpartum depression hits:
The sky starts falling.
I’m not a perfect mother and most days I can laugh about that, about the cookie my son found on the counter and I let him eat despite the fact that it was 8:00am. About the drawer of my dresser that I shoved everything into when told family would be over in 20 minutes to see our upstairs renovation. About the ‘stay in our pajamas and watch PBS all morning/midday/afternoon’ days (::cough:: last Tuesday ::cough::).
But when the sky is falling, when depression is in my head messing with even my sense of humor, these things stop being funny and they start being reasons to dislike myself.
You don’t know how to say no to him. Push over.
You stay home as a “homemaker” and you can’t even keep a clean house. Slob.
You’re taking the easy way out of parenting. Lazy.
A cookie at 8, a messy bedroom, a relaxed day in: they are all more than reasonable, but depression attacks my very ability to reason. It leads me to believe that what’s ok is not ok, and that what’s not ok is ok.
And here’s the thing about falling skies:
They can’t unfall.
One slip up, one moment of weakness, heck, one moment of reality that doesn’t meet my unrealistic expectations and it’s all over from there. I can’t win from that moment on. I might as well give up on today is what my depression wants me to think.
And some days that is exactly what I have done. I have rolled over, stopped caring, embraced my self-hatred. Those days do not end well. O, heaven help me, they do not end well for anyone.
I’ve been looking for a way to break the cycle. A cosmic scaffold I can put up that stalls that damn sky right where it is. To help me in the moment, I made a list of interventions for when my sky starts to slip.
Put on your lavender lotion and breathe deep.
Sit on the front step and read one article in today’s paper.
Pour yourself a glass of sweet tea.
Stretch. Think about all the things your are good at.
Dance silly, sing loudly: “This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it. This is the day!…”
Close yourself in the bathroom, read today’s Jesus Calling excerpt.
Knit a row.
Start a pot of chamomile tea.
Arms up, breathe in. Arms down, breathe out. Repeat.
Take a goofy picture with the boys on your phone.
Go into your room and close the door. Light a candle. Breathe.
Get out crayons and paper, color with OBoy.
Turn on music. Dance.
Learning to give myself the grace to turn things around is not easy. Having this list has helped.