Monday, December 28, 2015

Barely above water

Valentine’s Day 2011. My husband took the day off work, not so we could spend some romantic time together, but rather to help me dismantle the Christmas tree and decorations. I was eight months into my maternity leave at the time, and the thought of doing this task by myself was so daunting and so overwhelming that I was immobilized, and I consequently left our Christmas relics set up for several months.

This is when I realized something was seriously wrong with me, and I needed to get help.

The real me has been described as a borderline Type A personality – I maintain a daily To Do list, and I get anxious and impatient if I’m not able to achieve my tasks in the time frame I’ve set out for myself. So, leaving the Christmas tree set up until Valentine’s Day? That’s not the real me. The real me would have had everything disassembled with military precision and placed into storage no later than the first week of January.  

But it wasn’t just the Christmas decorations that overwhelmed me. It was everything. I was barely able to shovel snow, I almost never had dinner ready, and our living room was turned into an obstacle course of laundry baskets and baby toys.

At the time I thought I just hated being a mom. Yes, I loved my daughter, but I certainly didn’t feel cut out for being a parent. There was no going back to the way things were before she was born, though, so I figured I just had to tough it out and adjust to this new routine. Things would sort themselves out and get better once I eventually got the hang of motherhood, right?

Sadly, no. This was made very clear when my husband – who is usually mild mannered and not at all bothered by clutter – became so fed up by the Christmas tree that he took it upon himself to finish the job I couldn’t even start.

Later that week, when I was finally able to muster up the courage, I booked an appointment with my doctor to discuss the possibility that I might be dealing with postpartum depression.

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The above is an excerpt from a piece of writing I submitted years ago for a book celebrating motherhood. 

My submission was declined, which I think is a real shame given that so many parents seem to be facing their own challenges, just struggling to make it through the day, much like myself. 

The current issue of Today's Parent magazine also touches on this subject, as they often do, which is a credit to them since they obviously realize how prevalent this issue has become.

But as for me, things have mercifully improved, at least in terms of this year's Christmas tree. I normally like to leave it set up until Epiphany, but we somehow managed to place it back into storage just yesterday. 

Which, for me, can be considered nothing short of a Christmas miracle.




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