Monday, May 30, 2016
"But, I'm Not An Angry Person!" Part 1
Today might not be the best day to be doing this, linking up with Flourish in Hope and Half Kindled for their annual PPD linkup. It was a bad day. I couldn't get a handle on my emotions. There was no logical reason for me to be having mini-breakdowns all day - Code Monkey was home, the kids were as good as they ever are (which, if you know us in real life, you know they are strangely spectacular, in spite of me), the sun was out, I've actually had over a week's worth of uninterrupted sleep at night, etc. Reading the posts about the struggles other women have had with PPD and similar disorders was icing on a very nasty emotional cake. But, perhaps the reason I should. The feelings are still fresh in my body. And reading about others is healing; I'm not the only one. I'm not crazy. I'm not just making this up. I'm not just lacking in self control.
Hah! Self control. If only you knew how much self control I used to have, or at least thought I had, back in high school. I've touched on my high school depression before, but one of my coping mechanisms was sort of emotionally shutting down. I needed the pretense of control, though it didn't seem like a pretense at the time. I needed to be the closed book, because I was too afraid to let anyone see. I never cried and I was never angry; I hid my pain well. So you can imagine my shock when I found myself raging at the boys after Juanito was born. It didn't show up until around 6 months after he was born. I would become intensely angry over nothing. "Nothing?" you question. Nothing worth raging over. Babies and toddlers cry. Not logically worth getting angry over. They make messes. Not logically worth bellowing at them for. "Bellowing? Really. Stop exaggerating." If only I was. I don't know that I have the language to describe it. Animalistic. Screaming at the top of my lungs, with all the energy I had, because I just needed it to stop. I. Just. Needed. It. To. Stop. Mostly the crying. I could physically feel the sound waves hitting my eardrums.
Raging only made it worse, though. The crying would pause, like the calm in the eye of a storm, only to begin again with a greater force driven by terror, terror of me, their mother. The person who is supposed to love them, comfort them, help them manage their emotions; not lose control of her own. I joined them in their tears, hating myself for not being able to be the grown up, for letting it get to me, for losing control. I never thought it would be like this. That I would be like this.
And the thoughts, the ones of violence. I understand, now, why mothers kill their own children. To make it, whatever it happened to be for them, stop. When you are in a moment like that, rock bottom, it is nearly impossible to imagine worse. The vicious cycle of anger, guilt, anger, guilt is enough to drive anyone mad. Without help, it's only a matter of time.
Thankfully, my rage subsided, mostly, all on it's own. I don't know if it was just the passing of time, but I found myself much more in control by the time we found out we were expecting Little Miss. We were doing great, until around 6 weeks in. Then the prenatal depression hit. I was completely blindsided. It had been over a decade since I had been that black. I was constantly irritable and annoyed. I lost my temper over the slightest thing. And the guilt. I felt as though I was stuck in a bog, slowly being sucked down into the quagmire of depression. At my lowest point, I was beginning to lose my fear of Hell. The fear of which was what kept me from killing myself as a teen. And it was fading. I just needed it to end. I was barely managing to hold my recklessness in check, because I wasn't willing to risk the lives of my children, but more than once I was so close to asking a friend to watch them for a few hours, and then just leaving. Finding a plane headed out west and just leaving everything, so they would have nothing to legally bring me back for.
I felt so empty. I had nothing left to give, and the little I was giving wasn't worth having. I was 100% convinced my family would be better off without me. All I could see was how I was destroying them. I don't remember how I came out. I knew I needed help when going to bed didn't make my "funk" any better. Normally, I would have an awful day, go to bed, and wake up feeling better, even if only for 15 minutes. I knew I needed help when that stopped happening, when I woke up just as defeated as when I went to bed. I went to adoration after my worst day, my third day in a row of waking up already defeated, and somehow it was never so bad after that. We muddled through the rest of the pregnancy, and started seeking help in earnest in October.
I should probably make a separate post detailing what we're doing to help mitigate the damage this time around, considering this post is quite long. And then I can link that one, so people don't have to muddle through this depression story if they don't want to. I'll link to Part 2 HERE.