Let me be real for a hot minute: I am not myself. Since the birth of my son, almost 18 months ago, I haven’t been ME. I know it’s common after you push a person out of your vagina to feel out of sorts. In my case, I had a doctor arm-deep in my stomach pulling him out, but the point is the same. Birthing these babies is hard. It takes a toll on us moms. One minute we’re dreading bowel movements, dealing with sore lady bits and leaky boobs, and the next we’re home and trying to figure out how to ninja walk out of the nursery and not wake up the baby. It’s easy to see how we can lose a bit of ourselves in this crazy time. In some cases, this feeling of not being ourselves can actually be something more serious. I currently have postpartum depression and anxiety, and I honestly don’t understand how more moms don’t feel the same. I’m SO GLAD they don’t, but when you feel so out of sorts, it’s hard to think of why you seem to be the only one in the sad club.
I’m homesick for myself — that place I can no longer find no matter how hard I search. It always feels like I’m just barely out of reach, and with enough stretching and bending of my tired body, I’ll finally grip me and pull me back into myself.
No one wants to truly talk about life when it’s really ugly and hard. We gloss over the ugly parts by saying:
-It will get better.
-There’s light at the end of the tunnel.
-You just need some good sleep.
But really, these are just platitudes we tell so that the other person will just shut the heck up. I mean, I say these as well. I know I’m doing it, but really, what else can you say? Is it polite conversation to say, “I hate that your life truly sucks right now and you feel like running away and pretending you don’t have a family at all.” Does acknowledging another person’s pain make it any better? I don’t know. I also don’t know how to convey that to another person without feeling like a generic Dr. Phil.
People think that depression, anxiety, grieving, or any other ugly emotion is contagious. Like if you spend time around this person or talk about their reality, you will somehow get contaminated with their emotions. They will drag you into their prison of pain and confusion, and lock the door just so they can have some company. Misery loves company and those damaged people are coming for you.
It’s like being in a glass jar and you can see perfectly clear, sometimes even hyper clear, but that glass wall prevents you from FEELING and processing what you’re seeing. The emotions you do feel are muted and tainted with whatever “depressive, anxious, etc.” film that’s covering the glass. Other times, the glass magnifies every.single.thing and every.single.thing is this huge monstrous EVENT that feels like it’s going to end the world. It’s exhausting and honestly it’s pure horse(say it with me now).
So what’s the solution? What’s the point? You tell me.
I’ve been in therapy for almost four months and still don’t have a clue. Awesome, right? What I do know is that chocolate milk helps. Seriously. Get yourself some Cruze Farm chocolate milk or Weigel’s brand chocolate milk and gulp it down. Now — tell me how you feel. Unless you’re lactose intolerant and need a bathroom, you feel pretty good, right? Read a good book. Binge on a show that makes you laugh. Teach your toddler some knock-knock jokes and then watch them tell them to another person. Go outside and take a walk. Tickle your husband when he least expects it and listen to him sound like a teenage girl. (Mind out of the gutter…I mean actual tickling!)
Maybe the answer is that each day you do lots of little things that make you happy and eventually that’s your new normal. Some days what makes you happy might mean slow mornings, naps, and frozen pizza for dinner. Other days happiness might mean going to an amusement park.
I’m on a journey to find myself again, and that journey includes sharing where I’ve been. It can be ugly, scary, and weirdly funny, but I’ve found from therapy that it’s healthy for me to open up and speak to others. So, hey. I’m Ashley. I love to cook, read, and watch YouTube videos of people beat-boxing. I also deal with depression and anxiety. I drink chocolate milk in the privacy of my bathroom so I don’t have to share, I’m in therapy, and I like long walks…in Target.