All I could think about when I was younger was how I couldn’t wait to be grown. Now look at me… wishing to be young again. Growing up ain’t all it cracked up to be. I would like to know where I can return this adult and get my younger self back?
Most days I look at my mom like the superhuman woman she is and wonder how she did it everyday… EVERY. DAY!
How did she:
Go to work, cook meals, keep a clean house, volunteer at church, take care of her parents, take care of other people’s kids, be a wife, be a friend, have time to gossip, drink a gallon of water, plan birthday parties, celebrate accomplishments, attend all extra-curricular activities, take me to the library, take a bath everyday, maintain any type of beauty, get her hair done, keep her baseboards clean, wash clothes, take all the really large comforters to the washer because they’re too big for the washing machine, comb my hair, get us ready for church every Sunday, have Sunday dinner already cooked before we even leave for church on Sunday, have two other kids besides me, pay bills on time, read her bible (like the real one and not the app!), Pray, sleep, stay sane….like how???
More importantly… how did she ever have any time for herself?
On the long list of things to accomplish… where was she?
2017 was a year full of some amazing highs, so high I was too busy anticipating the next high to even notice the lows. I got engaged, planned a wedding, started a new business, expected a baby, moved to a major city, actually got married and so on. The first nine months felt like being on a roller coaster ride. Life started settling in September and there was nothing left to really distract me from what I was really feeling…
Depression hit me like a brick and literally took my breath away. Me… tough as nails, can handle anything, get it done Sabrina. I never saw it coming because this isn’t something that happens to people like me. People that are mentally strong… depression is for those that are weak and not truly in relationship with God. At least that’s what I have always believed.
Sadness crept into my life like vapor. It clung to my clothes and my sheets, I found it in my shoes and hanging in my closets. It was in the mirror when I stared at my reflection and waited for me at the table when I had my coffee. Some days it hugged me so tight that I couldn’t breathe. It was everywhere I was.
At first I thought it was just pregnancy hormones because isn’t every woman overly emotional when she is pregnant? This was different, like a nagging headache that just won’t go away. I self-cared myself to death. All the things that made me happy or put me in a better mood stopped working. I was afraid to admit that a feeling had gotten beyond my control and that I needed help. When over the counter medicine stops working then what do you do?
I found myself in the office of a psychologist, an earthy woman in flowing skirts that smelled like vanilla and cinnamon. She had a very kind smile and immediately I felt like I was in a safe space. Her kindness flipped a switch and ALL my emotions came tumbling right out. Like an inhaler to someone with asthma, she gave me what felt like relief. I could take a deep breath and just let it out. She listened until I was out of words and until I was out of tears. Her diagnosis was like a light at the end of very, very dark tunnel…
Grief. She said I was grieving and dealing with antepartum depression. My grandfather had died 2 years ago and my father just the year before but I didn’t think this was about them. She held my hands and said “You aren’t grieving them, you’re grieving you…”
Did I die and I didn’t know it? Is this what heaven is?
No. She went on to explain that I hadn’t died but everything about me was gone. Everything that made me… was gone.
My career, my family, my hometown, my friends… all the slices in my ‘me’ pie were gone. I was in an unfamiliar city, not doing the work I felt purposed to do, not surrounded by the people I love. I was about to bring this new life into the world and I was deathly afraid of this person my baby was about to meet. I had never raised a baby alone and that worried me. This is why it’s important to never gauge what you see on social media as true. This was a time when so many people told my I’d never looked better but honestly I had never felt worse.
I had picked up and moved but forgot to pack ‘me’ with all of my belongings. Until that session I never knew you could grieve things that weren’t dead. It made no sense and all the sense at the same time.
Grief is essentially how you process loss and I was experiencing a lot of loss all at one time. On top of a lot of life changes. Marriage. Pregnancy. Major Move. Career change. All these things warrant some feelings and all these things at one time warrant a major meltdown. She told me she would be more concerned if I didn’t feel anything at all. She suggested that to get over missing the old Sabrina it was time to invent the new Sabrina. Explore the area, join a group of people with similar interest and try to make this new place home. One major issue that I had left was what if things get worse when I have the baby?
“You found your way here, and you’ll find your way back if you need to.”
I left her office feeling renewed and went about my business building a new Sabrina. For awhile that worked and I felt better.
I had my son and I fell in love with him like everyone said I would. His chubby cheeks gave me a new purpose and my world seems ok most of the time. As my responsibilities grow being a mom, I cling tighter to myself hoping that she doesn’t get lost again.
I know you’re reading this waiting for the happy ending where I say that I conquered all my demons and my world is rainbows and sunshine but my story isn’t over so I can’t give you that… yet.
What I can tell you is that there are still some days that I wake up with a tightness in my throat. Some days I sit at the table with my coffee and sadness joins me like an old friend again. And some days I can’t find myself at all. I do ask for help when I need it instead of pretending like I can do everything alone. I’m honest about my feelings and intentional about taking quiet time for myself. I stopped chasing perfection. I don’t know if it’s something that you ever fix or cure but rather maintain. Like your weight on a scale you just have to work on keeping yourself balanced.
And the scales change everyday…
I felt the need to write this because May is Maternal Depression Awareness month. What is maternal depression? “The term maternal depression encompasses a range of conditions that can affect women during pregnancy and up to one year postpartum. This spectrum of conditions includes prenatal depression, the “baby blues,” postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis.” (ny.gov) I’m learning how important it is to “Speak UP When You’re DOWN”. As moms we sometimes place the entire world on our shoulders and find too much validation in never complaining about the weight. This isn’t a contest of who can endure more and not complain. If more women were honest about their struggles then other women would know that what they feel is perfectly normal and seek help if they need it. If you can go see a doctor about your physical health then you can see a doctor about your mental health. There is no shame in seeking all the resources necessary to live your best life.