unfalling the sky

{photo credit}

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.

32 Responses to “unfalling the sky”

  1. Meredith

    I can relate so much more than I wish I could. The list is a great idea, I might need to make one myself. Hang in and hugs to you!

  2. Mrs. MidAtlantic

    That is a great list. You have a whole bunch of calming activities that don’t require thinking. It’s the thinking that gets me everytime. When I get to thinking, I walk into the kitchen, fill the teapot, and start brewing some tea.

  3. sidnie

    O Allison.
    In tears reading this.
    Because my sky has so fallen. It has been so dark these past few weeks. Months, even.

    And I’ve hated myself and I’ve hid clutter and I’ve made piles of stuff to be thrown out, stuff to give away, and it sits there. And then the laundry piles up when I’ve given up on the day. And then the sink fills up when I’ve given up on the week…
    And from there it all just spirals out of control….
    And the sky falls more.

    I’ve called myself push over, slob, and lazy more often than I care to admit.
    And then today, I asked a friend for help….

    I let her into myself. I let her see my heart and my home and my stress and weaknesses.
    And she took control. She told me what to do, where to start and for four hours, she sacrificed her day and helped me sort through some of this crap…

    And then I sit down and read your words and oh, my heart- it’s what I needed to read today.

    I’m making a list today and the first thing on it?
    Find someone (a professional) to talk to.

    In this battle I’ve fought, I’ve only done enough to get the meds. And that’s never been enough.
    It’s time to let someone else in. It’s time to give up the control and let someone listen and help me sort through the clutter in my brain and in my heart….

    (love to you. you’re amazing. join me for a glass of tea?)

  4. Jenny

    Thank you so much for writing this post. There are many days I feel the same way, and have been afraid to call it “depression”, when I know that really, that is what it is. This list is a fantastic idea–and I will be creating one too. And guessing I might even steal a few of your ideas. Hang in there! And stock up on some tea. :-)

  5. Heather Irene @ Rambling Rose

    Thank you for your honesty. It scares me that I have days like this now and I’m not even pregnant yet. I will really need to take your “list” into consideration now and in the future! This is why community is so important.

  6. Nicole Drysdale-Rickman

    Oh how I know what you mean! I have many of these same items on my list but I also included bubble baths. They make my world ok.

    I just want you to know that you have helped me address my own struggles with depression. I have actually been diagnosed with bipolar depression years ago but I was in denial with getting help. I was so lost and there were many days that reading your blog was what helped me know it would be ok. Reading your blog gave me the strength to tell my husband how bad it really was, to finally ask for help, take my medication.

    So, thank you for your openness and honesty with your struggles! I keep your name in my prayers.

  7. Holly

    This is the best post I’ve ever read. period. Thank you for making me feel like I’m not the alone in this.

  8. Erin

    O Dear,
    This is a fantasic post because you could not have hit the nail more on the head. I am in the exact same boat, with two kiddos the same age difference, so please reach out any time. You will be caught.

  9. Candace

    Oh Goodness was this needed to be heard today. My little one is 2 months old, and I feel like I am FAILING constantly. At first I thought that I needed to work harder, push though the unexplained exhaustion, get more organized, and DO BETTER, yet it always ended in tears and the words “I give up.” I am realizing now that my old foe depression is slipping back into my life, even while spending all day with my adorable little sweetie. I’m so encouraged to know that I’m not alone… in more ways that one. God is listening, and you are writing… THANK YOU!

  10. Stephanie

    Thank you. I feel this way a lot and didn’t realize impossible standards were a symptom of depression. It somehow makes me feel better just having this knowledge.

  11. Emily

    Allison….reading your post pretty much sums up my feelings of my depression and I have a list similiar to yours to help me deal with those bad days. I’m rooting for you and hope you have many more good days than bad!

  12. Korie

    Thank you for your honesty in this post, Allison! I had ppd after the birth of my daughter and now as I’m carrying a second little blessing, these thoughts already run through my head. There are days even now (my daughter is 19 months old) that I tell myself I am a failure because I let her play by herself while I checked my e-mail or because I took a nap when she did because this pregnancy is making me soo tired. I will definitely be making a list like that! Have you found the depression is worse after the second baby? Hang in there! You’re doing a wonderful job.

  13. Jessica

    Thank you for this post. I do not suffer from PPD but I have days where I wonder the same thing, I am a SAHM and I can’t keep the house clean and can’t cook supper and just want 5 minutes of silence. Then I have good days, and I realize I do what I can do and that’s it.

  14. Helen Davies

    I love that so many people read your posts and feel better and not so alone anymore! Depression sucks but YOU are finding a purpose in it, even if you don’t realize it. YOU are making people feel better. YOU are amazing! Take that PND! (ps, have to tell you that this comment is the first to be written on my shiney new birthday present, n iPad! Now that makes me feel better!)

  15. Kallysa

    Add to your list: reading the comments on your blog and realize what an impact your beautiful honesty and journey is having on so many people worldwide!

  16. Kim

    I have been here, 3 times with a baby in my arms, and 3 times without, and then descended so deep I almost didn’t come back up. So I say this with kindness and love: Thereapy as well. It’s a wonderful and beautiful thing to hear somebody else echo those exact words, to give you more to say, more exercises to do. Sending prayes your way. You’re fighting and aware and that’s 90% of the battle!

  17. Julie

    I struggled with anxiety after my first pregnancy and now, 4 weeks away from being due with baby girl, some of those feelings are starting to come back. I love that you made a list to help you- and I think I will do the same. Your honesty is powerful. Thank you for sharing.

  18. lisa

    You have wisdom beyond your years. Your words are a balm to me. Those negative thoughts can cut you down– but you recognize that’s what they are— negative thoughts and not the truth. Thank you for writing this post. Your list is a great idea. I will write one, too.

  19. Jenny

    This post just illustrates how depression can twist your thoughts. Love the idea of a list. I am also struggling with PPD and PPA. Your honesty makes me realize that I am not alone in this fight. Hang in there, mama!

  20. Janae

    I stumbled across your website somehow during my blog surfing spree. You are such a talented writer so I started reading some of your other blog posts, and came across this one. Thank you for sharing your PPD experiences, it has made me recognize that what I have is very similar to you. I love that you have an action plan to face this head-on – it’s very inspiring.

  21. Victoria

    This post is relatively old, but it hits a note for me that is very new. I am not a mother, and do not have PPD. What I do have, though, is a cycle of depression that hits and sounds just like this. Thank you for sharing this raw piece of emotion that is so, so easily relateable on different levels. I need to make a list, too, sometimes. Just to remind myself that one bad day does not mean a bad life. And one bad moment will not equal a bad day. That breathing and loving and forcing, sometimes, happiness, is difficult for so many people. We must teach ourselves daily what giving grace really is. I hope that you find yourself with much more grace now than you did when you wrote this post.


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