(My wife suggested I post this here, too, so if you follow my twomamasonebaby blog, please excuse the repeat post.)
I’ve struggled with it for as long as I can remember. A lot of shitty things happened in my childhood that left me with little self-esteem or self-worth and I spent my teenage years and most of my twenties in a depressed haze of over-eating, over-spending, and running away from my problems. I sporadically saw psychiatrists and therapists and went on more than one antidepressant (which never seemed to help). In my late 20’s, I decided enough was enough, that I was tired of feeling like I did, and I started taking better care of myself. I went back to therapy, I started taking control of my finances, and…I met my wife. She changed me. She really did. Not that I couldn’t have become who I now am without her, but she was the catalyst for so much positive change in my life and for that, I will forever be grateful. But you know what’s funny? For so long, I always thought finding the person I would spend the rest of my life with would “fix” my depression, that that person would magically make all those negative feelings and emotions go away. Yeah, it doesn’t work that way. I love my life and am happier now than I ever thought I would be, but I’m still someone who struggles with depression, which is a hard pill to swallow.
It wasn’t until I really started paying attention to it that I realized most of my depressive episodes are hormone-related. Looking at the calendar and recognizing I was having a bad brain day, as my wife calls them, because my period was just days away did so much for me. It didn’t make the depression stop or lessen or be any easier to cope with, really, but it gave the rational part of my brain a little more power and the ability to say to myself, “This feeling will pass.” It was something concrete I could remind myself of when the swirl of self-hatred was at it’s worst. And now, during pregnancy? With all sorts of raging hormones? I’m not gonna lie, I’ve been having a rough time. And it hasn’t been easy on my wife. It doesn’t help that I have a cold and don’t feel well just in general still and I’m so tired and I’m stressed from work and the over-abundance of dogs in our house. It’s been a rough week for me and for separate reasons, for my wife as well and we’ve both needed more from the other than has been possible. I cried a lot today as we really got to the bottom of it all and I realized just how bad a brain *week* I’ve had.
I think I sometimes think I have this whole depression thing figured out. I always want to say, “I used to be a really depressed person, but I’m not anymore.” In a sense, that’s true. I’ve come a long, long way. But I’ll always struggle with it. Always.
I sometimes wish I were a different person. A non-depressed person. When I’m having a bad brain day, I’m terrified I need too much from my wife and one day she’ll get tired of it and leave me. I worried about that today and told her as much. She told me that’s my depression talking and assured me she loves me just as I am and wouldn’t ever want me to be someone else. But that she does worry about me sometimes and how internal I get when the negative thoughts start that swirling.
I know my hormones are going to continue to rage, throughout this pregnancy and beyond. I know that means more bad brain days. Less predictable ones, too, since I don’t have a monthly period by which I can track and predict them some. It’s going to be a challenge for me to cope with them sometimes, but I think the epiphany of today will help me recognize and work through them better. For me, for my wife, and for this baby, because above all, I do not want my child to ever see that version of me if I can help it. That said, I worry about post-partum depression a lot.
Depression runs in my family, both of my mother’s side (quite predominantly) as well as my father’s (in a pretty extreme way). I fear it’s something my child has no chance of escaping, genetically. I know how easy it is to succumb to something like depression, as well as how hard it is to fight against it. And if I do pass it on, I hope, at the very least, I can also pass on my strength, determination, and some healthy ways of coping with difficult emotions.
If you made it to the end, thanks for reading.