There is a surface.
Calm and smooth. It reflects perfectly in the form of a smile or laugh.
It is unmarred by the swirling current of thoughts that rush just below, which have been veiled by opaque collectedness.
These currents pull at my heels and hands. My heart.
They know they will have me if that surface isn’t shattered.
I have been through this three other times and three other times I was okay. Smiling, laughing. But this time was different. I waited for the keel to level out and come back to center. It didn’t.
“What a beautiful family you have! Four! You really have your hands full but you look amazing for just having a baby! How are you doing?” All felt like polite insincerity. Remarks on a body and life that didn’t feel like my own.
“I’m fine” was my response. An unwavering smile for reassurance. Polite obscurity.
I started feeling worse. I was split in two. That surface that appeared whole and happy and the woman drowning just below it. Surrounded by that beautiful family only to feel crushing loneliness, questioning friendships and relationships. Why haven’t they called? Why haven’t they visited? Why can’t they just text me? I needed help but no one knew and I didn’t know how to explain what I was feeling. I would try to write but I couldn’t grasp the words that would rise and fall back down into my blurry mind. I would walk around my house in circles, not knowing what to do and feeling hopeless. I would look at my sweet baby nursing contentedly and only feel sadness. And I would cry. I was exhausted from crying and exhausted from trying not to cry. Exhausted from forcing myself to be happy.
I keep a lot to myself. I don’t break down and I don’t let many people in. I’m there for everyone else but I’m not sure if they really know who I really am or what I’m feeling. Sometimes I don’t even know.
But I broke down. I said I wasn’t alright. I’m not okay. I shouldn’t feel like this. My openness and vulnerability were met with dismissal.
It’s just hormones. It’s just stress, lack of sleep. Give it more time and you will be fine. Buck up and talk yourself into feeling better. There’s even a book you can read that lists 14,000 different things that should make you happy.
Because nobody wants to hear about how sad you are.
I know depression doesn’t happen in a day. It’s a slow walk down a path that only gets narrower and darker, leading you away from those people and things you love, until not even the path remains. Just your mind in smothering darkness. Very sickly self-indulgent, a terrible cycle of feeling sad about how incredibly sad you feel.
I didn’t ask for help again but I filled out the postpartum depression questionnaire at my six week check-up honestly. My doctor didn’t like what she saw.
Finally, a crack in the surface relieving the turmoil it was holding back.
I’m on my way to doing better. I still have bad days but they aren’t so despairing. The genuineness of my smile and laughs has returned. I’m trying to have at least one small accomplishment a day- even if it’s a load of laundry or planning a meal. Somedays this means just getting dressed and putting on makeup. But i’m trying to not let things compound and get the best of me.
This might not be very eloquent (or coherent) but I wanted to be truthful about why my words here have been lacking. Hopefully soon I can say with all honesty “I’m fine.”