It was March. I was sitting in dimly light the basement of my father’s house, having just come far too close to a break down for me to put on a brave face and go upstairs to eat dinner just yet. DanO was faithfully by my side, no doubt bewildered by the woman sitting next to him who is a dead ringer for his wife but her behavior indicates that it is not she.
“I want myself back,” I said as much to my husband as to the darkness around me, “I want to be me again.”
Relieved that the woman wearing his wife’s skin was equally aware of the problem, DanO nodded, “You will be.”
“You will be.”
I almost let myself believe him.
We sat there a while longer with OBaby finally (and I do mean finally) asleep in the pack-n-play on the other side of the door. I pleaded silently to God, with no more articulate thoughts than “Please, please, please…”
This was not the first time I’d stepped back to survey the situation and hated what I saw. It wasn’t the first time I knew there was a problem, but it would still be a month and a half before I spoke to a professional about my fear, my mood swings, my middle of the night panic attacks. And now, on this side of that ‘first day of the rest of my life‘ meeting with a sweet woman from my church who also happens to be a therapist, I have this reoccurring thought:
Why the hell did I wait so long?
Well, that’s entirely not true. Literally, I know why. It’s a complex algorithm that includes 1. not thinking my issues were depression related (I didn’t have the ‘weepy-sads’ like you see in those pharmaceutical commercials, I had the ‘run-away-and-hides’ so it must just be my problem) 2. having watched someone dear to me be medicated year in and year out for psychological issues, I did not want to follow that pattern 3. a huge looming and horrific elephant in the room named Will They Think I’m Unfit To Be A Mother?.
Yes, I could tell you why I waited. But really, knowing what I know now, being in the place I am now, it’s still a little baffling to me how I let myself believe those lies that ultimately sent The Real Me on a nine month exile.
Do not believe the lies.
Ironically, month in and month out the lies got louder.“But now it’s been 7 months… it’s too late…” I told myself, as though there were an expiration date on my emotional wellness. Each month as the broken record of “it’s too late” spun faster and faster in my mind, things also got harder, heavier, scarier…
until one Sunday morning when our church was commissioning the new lay ministers: members appointed to serve the church in various capacities. “These servants of Christ,” the pastor said from the pulpit, “are here to serve His body, you, The Church in your time of need. Use them. They are God’s gift to you.”
He may as well have said “Allison” at the end, so loud was the throbbing pulse of the Holy Spirit in my ears.
The next morning, after hanging up the phone with the lay minister coordinator, my pleading, inarticulate supplication of “Please, please, please…” became the insufficient praise, “Thank you, thank you, thank you…”
Please hear me in this: nothing, no pride, no fear, no stigma toward depression or medication is worth the pain of those months.
I will never have them back, those months in which I wasn’t able to be myself to my husband, my brand new son.
If you don’t know where to grasp, what to reach for, who to tell, might I suggest you start with your healthcare provider? I know, I did not start there (in fact, it took both the woman from my church and DanO practically holding my hand to get me to make and arrive at my appointment) but in the end none of the things I feared from a doctor’s visit became reality. None of them.
If you need someone to hold your hand, please tell me; no one should leave their postpartum depression untreated as long as I did.