Thursday, August 14, 2008

Everything is OK

Distinguishing the difference between stress and depression can be difficult, especially for new moms. After Ryan was born, I was a complete wreck. In fact, my husband would probably argue that 11 months later I am still a complete wreck. In my case, instead of trying to figure out why I was feeling the way I was, I ignored it and what it's generated is huge arguments about kitty litter and our morning routine and spazing because Jon rearranged all the stuff under the bathroom sink. So, when I was asked to join in on a conference call with Dr. Myrna Weissman and Families for Depression Awareness, I jumped at the chance.

There have been days during the last 11 months when I was sure I was suffering from postpartum depression, but I never felt like I wanted to injure myself or my children, so I wasn't really sure if it was PPD or not. All I knew was something was not right. During the call, I asked Dr. Weissman at what point does postpartum depression become regular depression. Her answer kind of surprised me. She started talking about the difference between stress and depression. That's when I realized that I'm not depressed, I'm completely stressed out. After Ryan was born, I did go through a couple of months with major baby blues, but I think I skirted major depression.

The thing is that I'm exhausted, every day I wake up more tired than when I go to sleep. I never had a single day out of the hospital after having Ryan when I was simply able to chill out and relax with my new baby. I never gave myself any time to heal properly. A week and a half after having Ryan, Jon had to go back to work and I stayed home with a precocious 14-month-old and a brand new baby that I had yet to bond with.

It was hell. Everyone cried. No one was happy and I couldn't wait to go back to work and send the kids off to daycare. When Ryan was 11 weeks old, I did just that. I went back to work full-time and from the day I went back, I have been so busy that most days I don't even eat lunch. I can honestly say I did not bond with Ryan until he was 4 months old.

All of this has caught up with me. It's caused tension at home, makes me yell and snap at my children and at my husband and it makes going to work every single day seem like the best and worst thing I've ever had to do. Best because I'm not home with the kids and worst because I'm not home with the kids.

Some days I feel like I've sealed my fate by having Sophia and Ryan so close together. The truth is that there is a solution. I'm going to start looking into stress reducing techniques and start going to bed a little earlier. I know it's OK to ask for help, I just need to do it more often and not to feel so bad when I do it. I believe these simple things will help reduce my stress. During the call, Dr. Weissman make it clear that mothers need to take care of themselves too. There needs to be a time when I do just that.

5 comments:

Bernadette said...

Any chance the doctor told you how to find the time AND without feeling guilty for it?

Sunshine said...

I never had PPD, but I did have plenty of times feeling completely overwhelmed. My sons are 2 years apart, then I repeated kind of by having my daughters 19 months apart. And I understand (though yours are WAY closer) that having a busy toddler and a newborn is incredibly challenging!

Yes, you need you time and you deserve you time. It makes you better for the kids when you find a way to relax.

Mamasphere said...

I work full time, then go home and cooke dinner, clean, do the laundry, pay the bills, EVERYTHING. I used to be so incredibly stressed. And then one day, instead of dropping to the floor and crying, I grabbed my daughter and a book and went to the park. All of the other things could wait. Since then I've learned that it's okay to let some things go a bit in order to save my sanity. I'm still stressed, but much less so. And my house is a bit dirtier, but everyone is happier.

Fern said...

Oh my gosh, I relate so closely to this. It reminds me of how stressed I felt when my oldest was 2 and my twins were infants and I was back at work full-time and working from home part of it and blah blah... it gets to be SO MUCH.

I am so glad you've at least realized you need some time for you, and had someone acknowledge how important that is.

(Also, don't worry -- it does get so much easier as they can do a bit more for themselves.)

Charles said...

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