There is something to be said for the short term battle. Short and hard, but over in a flash. The flu maybe. Giving birth. A disagreement with a friend or colleague. An overtired child. Resisting that mouth watering dessert, or that extra piece of cheesy pizza. They mark our everyday lives. They are like little molehills we stumble on, but overcome pretty quickly and easily.
And then there are the long-haul battles. Cancer, maybe. A broken relationship. An eating disorder. The loss of a loved one. The impossibility to conceive. Unfaithfulness. And the list goes on.
My long-haul battle is post natal depression and anxiety. My second child is now 16 months old and I’m not free of it. Six months ago I cut down on my anti-depressants and was coping really well. I felt amazing and on top of the world. But I didn’t have emotions and couldn’t cry. So I cut down and felt pretty confident that pretty soon I’d be finished with them.
I don’t know what happened. But very slowly, anxieties, anger, bitterness, impatience, curled their ugly heads out and showed up in my life once again. It got to the point where the person I love the most on this earth, my dear husband, and I had a big disagreement and I ended up saying, “But I can’t do any more than I’m doing, I still have depression!”. Life had just become too much. I’d taken on too many responsibilities and I was drowning. This admission hit us both very hard. Honestly, my husband deserves a medal for everything my PND has put him through (please note I didn’t say “I put him through”). He wants to be free of it just as much as I do. But we’re not. And we’re in this together, for better or for worse.
So I had two choices before me: go back to the doctor and put the meds back up again, or look at my activities and cut down. I chose the latter. I’ve asked for time off from my responsibilities at church. I still have too much though, but it’s tricky knowing what to cut out next. Everything I do, I do because I love and I believe in it, or believe it is my duty to do it. Being proactive about making these changes is one side of the coin.
On the other side is accepting the fact that I am not healed from PND. I am still a control freak. I don’t burst out laughing like I used to. I’m tired. I’m easily irritated. I love my kids to the ends of the earth and back, but some days I wish I could just go away for a very long holiday without them. I snap at my family. I get angry. And I sigh… a lot.
I look at my dear sweet husband and kids and I wish and pray with all my heart to become a soft, loving wife and mother. I want my beaming smile back. I want the bursts of laughter. I want to want to smell flowers and sit still on the beach. My mountain today is to accept the notion that I still suffer from PND, to capture it and go with the flow. I am already so much better. I have come such a long way. God carried me through. He is carrying me still. I’m in this for the long-haul. My husband is in this with me for the long-haul.
So to finish, I’d like to pay a tribute to all the husbands and wives who live with, stand by, support and love their partner with depression. Who climb the hills and mountains with us, who pull us out of our black holes, who accept us and whisper “I love you, just the way you are”.