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After having my first child, I jumped up out of bed--C-section be damned--climbed back up into my fifth-floor walk-up apartment, and acted as if nothing terribly out of the ordinary had happened with the exception of the baby arriving. Perhaps I'm exaggerating. Yes, I am. I was exhausted a lot of the time. My first son was so colicky that his pediatrician told me she used the sound of his screaming voice as her form of birth control. I was trying to finish my dissertation with the baby howling in the background. He never ate, and what he did eat he threw up shortly thereafter. It was not the easiest introduction to mothering, but I was fine. Perhaps because it was so hard, my expectations of what new motherhood would be like were shattered, and I surrendered all my other visions of domestic bliss and went into battle mode. And my particular crusade, or mantra if you like, was do not kill this kid. I remember feeling a great sense of purpose because I did have the patience to get through those first few nerve-grating months.
This was not the case after my second child. Upon her immediate arrival, I was convinced that I had made a catastrophic choice. I wept uncontrollably pretty much through the day. I thought I seemed okay to the outside world until my friend June asked me in a supportive and unabashed way, "Have you considered taking drugs to help you with that postpartum depression?" Huh, so it shows? Although most of my mother friends are more than happy to share at any given time all of the rage, judgment, disgust, and horror they feel toward their children, resulting in me feeling completely normalized regarding some of my darker moments, none of my friends had experienced postpartum depression. Not one. I questioned them carefully. I even explained the masked symptoms and read my diagnostic books to them. But I was the only one.
And it was worse with my third. I remember those weeks vividly. And the one thing I remember most is the feeling that I couldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel. I felt like I had made a choice there was no returning from, and that I had wrecked what good I did have. Looking back now, I wonder how I couldn't see that things always change. I had true tunnel vision, and this is a hallmark of depression. What seems unbearable now might look like a patch of the doldrums, or as in the case of some crises that occur in our lives, a transformative opportunity. But during that time all I could feel was an oppressive weight around my neck--the constant refrain that this black feeling was forever.
* This feeling is temporary--take two *
Looking back, I wished I'd had someone not only acknowledge that my depression was real, but really gotten through to me that it wasn't forever. The mantra this feeling is temporary can be a tool to push you past the intellectual knowledge that all feelings change and get you to a place where that understanding offers some real relief. If you find yourself in a tough phase of your life, take some time each day to repeat this mantra several times. Even if you don't feel like it or don't find it easy to believe at the moment, make saying it a regular practice. Close your eyes and allow yourself to be released, if only momentarily, from some of the sadness, depression, and loneliness you are feeling. Take three or four deep breaths and remind yourself that whatever feeling you are having at the moment, no matter how intense or powerful, it is temporary. It simply cannot last forever. No matter how dark the sky is with clouds, at some point a wind will usher them out. As you move through the depression or pain, visualize yourself getting closer to a lighter feeling. Imagine yourself steadily and constantly moving toward a time when you are not struggling with so much pain. And rest assured, no matter how long it takes, you are moving toward it.
Important Note: Because my postpartum depression was mild, it abated after a few months. If you find yourself in a situation of postpartum depression or if you’re depressed even though you haven’t recently had a baby, you may need to speak with your physician or another trusted health-care professional. There is much more awareness now about postpartum depression and depression in general. Help is out there. If you can’t take this step yourself, confide in a friend and ask her assistance in getting the help you need.
From the Hardcover edition.
Posted June 9, 2009
This is a must read for anyone with kids! The stories shared or Mantras used definately help calm down some of the most trying of moments we sometimes have as parents. Laughter is the best medicine & "Mommy Mantras" needs to be in everyone's arsenal! Would make a great gift to any baby shower...Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 4, 2006
this is a WONDERFUL and insightful book, useful and vital for mommies and non-mommies alike... as an educator, sister, friend, and aunt, I am happy to have this little masterpiece by my side to pick up during those challenging moments and times for personal reflection.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 7, 2006
What a wonderful book! Deep, insightful, humorous and relevant. What an asset to moms, dads, and all of us who struggle with the joys and challenges of raising kids. Get it, read it, enact it!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 12, 2011
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