On Despair

They should tell you when you sign up for motherhood that you can’t back out. It’s a totally messed up thought, I know. But it’s all I could think during those first few days after returning home from the hospital with our fresh little daughter in tow.

Such thoughts came as a disturbing surprise to me. Despite my protests, other unsettling notions started to fill my brain space in the first few weeks of parenthood, notions that left me feeling guilty and boggled. I was powerfully and swiftly consumed by a force that contrasted sharply with the beauty of bringing a human into the world. One minute I was high on the euphoria of manifesting a much anticipated miracle. The next minute I was being swallowed by despair. The ground had dropped out from under me and I just needed somewhere, anywhere, to put my feet.

On a good day, becoming a parent is the scariest thing ever. Add crippling PPD to the mix and it becomes a nightmare. It’s one of those things that can’t fully be understood until you’re standing in it chest-deep with no observable escape. It’s an illness that after slogging through its clutches and coming out the other side is difficult to recall in a visceral way. It’s insidious how it strangles you for a while and then makes you forget that it ever had its hands on you to begin with. It’s either naive or remarkable that I am able to feel any amount of appreciation for such a challenging experience. Well, perhaps not appreciation for falling into a pit of despair, but gratitude that I had the internal and external resources to climb out and see it for the bastard it is.

An analogy about “needing darkness to be able to see the light” seems fitting, because in many ways it’s true. But the reality is more like, “You have to stare some evil shit square in the face to know that you can’t — and refuse to — let it move in to your guest room and eat all your food.” (Fortunately we don’t have a guest room. Occasionally we have food.)

If I am to summarize what one might call “guidance” or “truths” in the wake of depression or any other type of hardship, it would be this:

  • Lean on people who love you. Lean hard. They will bear your weight.
  • The efficacy of pharmaceuticals is no friggin’ joke
  • Often the bare minimum is more than enough
  • Low expectations = more frequent victories
  • Go outside and feel your feet on the ground

We’re doing great now. The Girl is two months old today! She’s sweet and sassy like her mom and passes gas like her dad. She is alert and engaging and observant and makes my insides gooey the way squishy babies tend to do.

I maintained a strict posting schedule over the last nine-ish months. I’m unsure if I’ll be able to keep a similar schedule going forward, but I shall consult with the Boss Baby and see if she’ll permit such a commitment. If not, I’ll post when I post, and the funny will continue the way funny does, even in darkness.

Thanks for reading. Much love.

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