“How are you?”
I cannot recall a time in my life that such a simple question was so loaded.
I am mostly okay. With little bits of not okay interspersed. I don’t know if it will ever get better than that.
I’ve been on medication for post-partum depression for almost 6 months. As my doctor said, it’s not a happy pill. It’s not a magic bullet. Life isn’t puppies and rainbows, but it is unequivocally better. I am calmer. I am less sad. I do not feel hopeless. I can cope with the every day.
It has been a long time since I’ve blogged, and I think that’s because avoidance is my best coping mechanism. It is easier to avoid the conversation, avoid my friends, avoid the world, than to admit any kind of weakness. So I feel like I am back to just coasting along, making it through the ups and the downs. Feeling mostly okay.
But if I’m being honest? I am angry. It’s kind of a dull, medicated angry. But it’s there.
How did I get here? There are so many reasons. Most of them are biological, and so I’m not asking that question because I am ashamed or full of self-loathing or blame. But I am reflecting because, in order to learn how to make things better, we have to realize where we went wrong. I have to be accountable to my own situation. And, I am.
My first child came at the point in my life where my career was “taking off.” And my second when said career was requiring that I pursue an advanced degree, lest I stay trapped under the glass ceiling. Everything was happening all at once. I was barely treading water, and it just kept getting deeper and deeper. There is little I could have done to avoid PPD. But that doesn’t mean that I couldn’t have lighten up on myself. Conceded. Not tried to do everything. If I have learned any lesson through all of this it is to be more kind to myself.
I think a lot of women find themselves in this exact predicament. It’s the reason why many women chose to leave the workforce, and for many that’s a forced choice. The thought of doing both is overwhelming. Some women, though I think it’s truly a minority, can do it all. But the rest of us – a silent majority – just keep swimming, hoping for someone to throw us a life preserver. We medicate or we cry in dark corners or we drink. We just try to get by.
I want to make society accountable for a portion of what has happened to me. Because, let’s face it, society does not make it easy to be a mother. Or, really, to be a parent – it’s not just moms. But, society is unfair to the majority of itself and it can’t be my scapegoat here. Life is hard.
So where am I now? I am mostly okay. I feel stable. And I have to come to terms with either being “mostly okay” or be prepared change my own circumstances. I’m trying to be kind to myself. To make it through this point in my life that seems to be the culmination of many really difficult things. I am trying to be okay. I am mostly okay.