Thursday, October 22, 2015

Even Busy Black Women Get the Blues (Then and Now and Again)

By now it's no secret that black women can get the blues--even a Busy Black Woman who just happened to have had a baby 15 weeks ago...

Side note 1 - I wrote that sentence this summer when I first started writing this piece, but please keep reading:

Depression is not a new topic for me or this blog, and while I would prefer to write something a lot more light-hearted, it has been on my heart for more than three weeks to address my postpartum struggles. When I first began this piece over the summer, it was meant to be a commemoration of this past year since I began this unexpected journey towards motherhood in July 2014. My intended testimonial coincided perfectly with the baby's three month birthday and latest growth spurt; however, instead of celebrating I found myself overwhelmed by irrational sadness.

Side note 2 - We are now at the six month mark, another growth spurt is underway, and...

I have suffered with varying degrees of depression for most of my life, so I knew this was a possibility and was prepared to deal weeks earlier. I felt some of the typical new mother stress and reported that to the doctor at my postpartum visit. Then something shifted, like being hit by an enormous Pacific Ocean wave and I have been struggling to catch my breath ever since.

From my zigzagging emotional state; to enduring the various ailments that have manifested (and recurred) since giving birth; to this feisty little person who refuses to nap longer than 45 minutes at a time; to the omnipotent parenting expertise of Tigger (otherwise known as the ultra-exuberant over-protective first-time father); to my mother and the quicksand of dementia that engulfs her and my father; to every other aspect of my old Busy Black Life...I am really fucking depressed.

Side note 3 - I was really f***ing depressed, and then I was not, and now I am coping. This next paragraph reflects my current reality:

I decided to finish writing this piece about my postpartum depression even though I thought I had conquered it when I stopped taking the Zoloft one of my many doctors prescribed six weeks ago. This week, it started to creep back in again...but it has been manageable and the remaining pills are still in the drawer just in case (although I never could tell if they were working to be totally honest).

Side note 4 - All of this stuff is new:

I also wanted to finish this piece because I have needed to vent. Seriously.


For me postpartum depression has been a combination of all of the stressors I listed earlier multiplied by isolation, disconnectedness and a never-ending list of things that should must be done before this kid starts to walk. When I went to a doctor to address the matter, I was given a prescription and told to expect follow-up that never occurred (thankfully, I was not waiting by the phone or sitting on a ledge).

So how did I overcome? Well, first by admitting that I have yet to do so. Second, by accepting the fact that my life and relationships have changed dramatically and third, by deciding to go with the flow. Thus, when I have a week like this, when only a few things gets crossed off my list (none of the big ticket items, mind you), then I just breathe...

After I allow myself to lose it. Sometimes that could be crying; other times it could be shopping for more crap to add to my cluttered life. Or eating a lot of gelato. Then I pack the kid in the car and try not to hate myself for being imperfect.

A friend just asked me to give advice to another new mother which is ironic as I struggle to finish this piece (and as I am setting aside clothes and stuff for that very same new mother)...because who thinks of themselves as an expert on postpartum depression? My best advice is to seek out support.

Not advice, support. Plenty of people offer advice disguised as opinions and judgments on parenting. Which was definitely a contributing factor to my earlier feelings of inadequacy--folks making suggestions or off-handed comments such as, "that baby should be wearing more clothes" (even though it was 85 degrees and the kid was sweating), I fretted that I might have exposed her to the risk of developing June.

Finally, I also realized that there are times to let things this piece. I am a perfectionist, and I could keep writing and revising and it would NEVER be published. So here is my imperfect conclusion: