Friday, August 8, 2014

The Hardest Phone Call I've Made as a Mother

It's not like me to be a downer. But right now, to post anything other than this feels inauthentic. I hope that by sharing this, I encourage other mothers to seek help when they need it, although that can be a really, really hard thing to do.

I lied in the fetal position on the bed, not sleeping, for two hours last night. I never do that.
My husband wanted to talk, but I told him that I thought what was best for me was to lie with my baby.
I had cried the whole way home. I cried anytime I wasn't with my baby.

This morning, I made the call from my desk at work. I guess I didn't care who overheard me tell the receptionist, "I don't know if there's anyone in the area specializing in postpartum depression, but..."

Her tone changed immediately and she said she'd talk to my doctor right away. I got a call back within minutes, from a nurse who spoke to me as if we were at a funeral, or as if I were a child who'd gotten hurt. This was surprisingly OK for me, but since I was at work, I continued speaking in a "normal," upbeat office tone.

"I gave birth January 30th."

"I can't say when it started, more so that I've been waiting for it to go away and it hasn’t." (The baby blues, as they're known. I'd thought my weepiness in the weeks after birth was normal and part of having family stay with you while adapting to being a parent. Oh, it is normal, you say?)

"I don't have a specific plan, but I just started thinking of it yesterday, which is what prompted me to call." (re: hurting myself.)

"I'd prefer to avoid medication if I can. I'm not sure what kinds of options that leaves me with, but definitely avoiding medication."

I'm glad I called. I don't know what's going to happen next, but I think the courage it took to call beats out the consequences I'd face if I hadn't. The consequences not only for me, but for my daughter and for my husband. 

I'm hopeful for the first time. I'm hopeful that some sort of treatment may help change my thinking about depression and mental illness. When I struggled with depression as a young adult, I always attributed it to something: The turbulence in my home and family life, being an outcast at school, being rejected by crushes. While maybe those things were triggers, perhaps they weren't to blame. Perhaps there's just something I can see as clinical that makes me respond in this way to stressors. Something resulting from the physical process of giving birth and becoming a mother. And somehow, maybe, it means I'm not as fucked up as I sometimes think I am. Perhaps I'm helpable.

UPDATE: I'm seeing a doctor today. I'm impressed at how much of a priority they make this. They practically ordered me to get in for an appointment.

I want to thank Abby Heugel for posting this on yesterday. For some reason I stumbled upon it while lying in the fetal position and related to every. Single. Thing. About it. Thank you for helping to give me the courage to make that phone call.

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