2015, especially the first half, was an extremely difficult year for me. Thankfully, the year ended much better than it began.
2015 was the year I hit rock bottom. During my last pregnancy (2013 & part of 2014), I started to feel very "off". I would sit on my bathroom floor in the dark and cry for a very long time, praying and fighting the emotions I was feeling. I just kept telling myself that this was a "normal" part of pregnancy and having 2 little kids and that once I wasn't pregnant, I would feel more normal again. I was not upfront about how dark I was truly feeling. I just kept telling myself to toughen up and stop overreacting because life with little kids is hard for everyone. I felt an incredible burden of guilt and frustration for not being "tough enough" for motherhood and figured I just needed to deal with it "like an adult." I say these things in quotations because I understand now how wrong I was in my thinking.
In a flurry of stomach-flu chaos, I gave birth in early 2014. Instead of bonding with my baby and recovering properly, I spent the first week after her birth cleaning up after the stomach flu. It was one of the hardest weeks of my life. I thought I'd feel better once i was no longer pregnant, but instead, I started to feel more off than ever before. Life changes, a baby who screamed for hours every night nearly all night for 18 months, the responsibilities that come with managing a home and caring for 3 small kids, and extreme sleep deprivation worsened the downward spiral that had begun when I was pregnant. 2014 was very, very hard, and the incredible "difficultness" worsened until I finally reached rock bottom in early summer 2015. The first half of 2015 being the worst days I have ever been through.
I felt disconnected from life in every way. A walking shell of a person is how I would describe myself. I could hardly be dragged out of the house to go anywhere. I didn't want to do anything or go anywhere and only wanted to be alone all the time. The spark was gone. I thought about my 20-year-old self and saw zero resemblance to the person I was now. My poor husband would come home for lunch and find his wife sobbing on the bed because I didn't want to pick the kids up from their activities or because I had to go to the grocery store. Just the thought of leaving the house for any reason, no matter how trivial, would literally make my legs feel ice cold, skin tingle, and make me feel like I couldn't breathe. I had anxiety attacks over the smallest of tasks. Going to the grocery store felt like I was dragging a thousand pound weight behind me. I would park in the parking lot, sit in my car, and cry for 10 minutes, then feel guilty over "what's the big deal. It's just a stupid grocery store" and then give myself a pep talk before forcing myself to go inside, heart-pounding, elephant sitting on my chest, so to speak. Any time I was around people, even my closest family, I felt like I was trapped inside a glass box and observing everyone else...feeling incredibly disconnected in every way. I felt so unlike myself, it is actually really hard to describe. I was really not doing well. I will not get into it all on here, but this blog post is a little glimpse of how I was feeling. Postpartum depression and anxiety. I had heard all about it, but I never thought I'd also be one to experience it.
I finally knew I needed to get help. Changes were made in summer 2015. Changes that were, and still are, hard. New habits and ways of doing life are never easy. I learned that self-care is not selfish. I'm not talking about weekends at the spa, pedicures, shopping trips, and things like that, though those things are not bad. I'm talking about even the very basics like 20 minutes alone to read a book a few times a week. Or, 15 minutes to jog around the neighbourhood alone while someone else watches the kids. The biggest thing I learned, and am still learning, was to be kind to myself. I also realized that I'm more of an introvert (an INTJ for those Meyers-Briggs geeks out there), an out-going introvert is how I would describe myself. Being around people all the time really burns me out. My husband is an extrovert, a quieter, more serious extrovert as I'm definitely the louder and goofier one of the two! :-). Being around people 24/7 energizes him. He could spend all day working around people and then still want to go out and do something or hang out with friends to relax. It's not that I am shy or don't like to spend time with people, but if I don't have moments of quiet solitude completely alone, I find that I get absolutely exhausted in every way.
I am doing so much better these days, mentally. I praise the Lord for this. I can look at a sunrise and feel a sense of happiness. At Christmas I was visiting and playing games and felt connected.....like I was finally inside my body and inside the room. I do not believe I ever felt the feeling "happy" during the past two years of depression until I finally got help. I could pretend and appear to be happy, but I never really "felt it". It is so very hard to explain. I am finally starting to feel like myself again. I can feel emotions...all of them....again. I am also grateful I finally got the help I needed and have gained a much better understanding of what others struggling with depressing/anxiety during and after pregnancy might be going through.
2016 is looking like it will be a year of change. Big changes are coming for our family, and I know I will need to rely on God (as I always do) to help me through what will be some incredibly difficult and emotional days ahead. We are starting 2016 with anticipation and excitement as to where the Lord is leading us. It is a smorgasborg of emotions, but I am grateful for God's clear direction and guiding hand in our life.
That's all for now!