Today is A Bad Day. It didn’t start out that way, and I don’t know quite how it slipped into the chasm, but at about 1.15pm I suddenly felt deflated.
I don’t want to be a downer, but I thought it might be helpful to describe what A Bad Day can be like. Quite a few people have asked along the way.
I’m also committed to the community practice of lament, where we don’t all have to pretend that we’re fine when we’re not. Easier said than frowned, but here’s a small start.
It’s been a hardish week. We’ve finished our travels and arrived in Wellington to start the next era, but the year’s hobo-ness stays with us as we are yet to figure out job+house+church+friends+squash club and so on. Luckily we’re living with SBJ’s godparents for a bit, which is a real grace to us.
We had a near-death experience on the last leg home, as a young driver took his eyes off the bendy road to pick up his cellphone. He crossed the centre line and came towards us at 100km/hour. My husband braked and swerved and the oncoming car flew past my passenger window and onto the grass on the side of the road. A few inches and we probably all would have been in the news. Well done, that quick-reflexed husband.
So it’s been a strange week full of contradictory feelings. We’ve arrived ‘home’ but are still in transition. We’ve travelled safely around the world only to narrowly avoid dying on SH3. We’re so pleased to see long-lost family and friends, and now miss the rest of them scattered behind us. We’re grateful for all the good things, and know that we’re flipping lucky, and we’re also feeling a bit grumpy and lost. Paul might understand.
All of that is to say that it’s natural and predictable that my mood would be a bit fragile this week, and it has been. I’ve felt pretty low, I’ve had less energy, I’ve found it harder to express myself, and I haven’t felt up to communicating with friends: all my usual symptoms in this funny period of postnatal depression.
This morning was better, though. We had a good day together yesterday and woke up feeling positive. I got some good stuff done around the house (always satisfying) and felt like a Proper Organised Mother when I was chopping dinner vegetables while feeding SBJ lunch.
That’s kind of how it feels. One of the features of postnatal depression for me is that I have a limited budget of energy each day, and when it’s used, it’s used.
Suddenly, on a bad day, my brain goes FLUMP. My resilience deflates. I’m stuck under a grey blanket of FLUMP and it’s hard to struggle up out of it to smile at SBJ or decide what task to tackle next or to patch sentences together.
Today I felt it happen and there was no particular trigger. I told my husband about the new FLUMP status and got his help with figuring out how to go about picking up my replacement iPad from town, a logistical question that was now beyond my powers.
We drove down together. When when we got back to the car and found I’d lost my wallet, something else got lost too. For the first time in a while I was sobbing for very little cause, feeling completely bereft and hopeless and ineffectual.
Lucky guy sitting next to me, right? Bless him, he found my wallet (on the floor of the car beside me), took me home and looked after the boy while I played around with some photos online and regained my equilibrium.
A couple of hours later I managed to cook dinner (a major success – this is only the sixth dinner I’ve cooked in five months), thanks to the pre-chopping. It’s 7.30pm now and I’ve been in bed for an hour. But here I am fumbling towards articulacy and trying to remember to fake it till you become it and all the other sensible evidence-based advice for lifting mood. So that’s progress, right?
Tomorrow will be a better day. There will be Batucada in it, and a birthday party, and no doubt, countless dazzling smiles from my wee boy.
I will try to pace myself, get plenty of rest, a bit of exercise, and be kind to myself. And that will be another day on the way to feeling better. Because I will outlast this.
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You might also be interested in these related posts:
Other posts in this series on my experience of postnatal depression
How to support someone with postnatal depression
Kathryn’s story of postnatal depression
Jenn’s story of PTSD and childbirth
A step-by-step guide to getting more rest
Tips for becoming a great listener
A post on living in the gap between our expectations and the reality of parenthood
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