Over the course of the next week or so, I continued posting fun little stories about the kids and tried to keep my head up. I even had a lighthearted post that, in reality, demonstrated a very typical hour of my overwhelming life. It is likely that I spent the rest of that day depressed, not moving from the couch and doing the bare minimum to take care of the boys.
The next day was not a good one. I frequent a popular online moms' forum that is known for being quite blunt, without regard to people's feelings. I posted on there that I was a terrible mother. I had put Judah to bed, and after he was in there crying for 45 minutes, I tried a bottle. He drank the whole thing! I had left my little baby to scream in his crib for 45 minutes when he was hungry! Meanwhile, Ayden had spent the morning in front of the TV and by the time I put him down for his nap (about 1:00) all I had offered him to eat all day was Graham Crackers and juice. I couldn't remember their last bath. I was beating myself up for all of this and more, and I expected this brutal group of women to join in and let me have it.
The opposite happened. Not a single person criticized me. Of the 20-30 responses I got, all of them agreed that I was seriously depressed and needed help. I argued with them that I was just a crappy mom who was failing her kids and they argued back that I needed to get some help for depression. If they aren't willing to criticize me for all of this, maybe this is something that I shouldn't be criticizing myself for, either.
The experience of posting that online caused a shift in my thinking. I tried to get help. I talked with my midwife about it being postpartum depression. I tried to find a counselor. For an entire month, every attempt to get help failed. If it wasn't an insurance issue, it was a scheduling issue. If not that, something else. I tried and tried and tried and tried to get some help to fight this. Nothing was working out.
Meanwhile, I sunk lower. Soon I was calling Luke home from work early, or spending all day on a Saturday just laying in bed (and yelling at Luke if he tried to cheer me up or help me). I gave up even trying to give Ayden anything more than Graham Crackers each day. My desire to spend time with people was completely gone. Every time that I made a failed effort to get help, I became more deflated. It just wasn't even worth trying.
Two weeks ago, I finally got in to see a counselor. She's great. I've seen her twice and in that time, I've had a few good days. And by that I mean that I am doing "better" but "better" means more often than not I am still in pretty bad shape. Wednesday was a really good day. Then yesterday Luke left the house in a bad mood (Judah had gotten him up super-early, among other things) and I never recovered from the discouragement of it. By the time Luke came home last night, I had been laying on the couch for an hour--not reading or sleeping, just laying there. Judah fell asleep on the floor next to me and Ayden was roaming the house playing. Then today was a good day again.
I expect the road to be rough for awhile longer, but I finally have hope that things aren't always going to be this way. I'm not sure what triggered all of this (PPD? SAD? Stress?), but it doesn't have to rule me. There is a way out of this.
There is a reason that I am writing all of this, and it's not to get sympathy or beg for help. People often caution that you shouldn't air all of your dirty laundry on the internet for all the world to see. There is certainly truth to that. But this section from 2 Corinthians chapter 1 has been on my mind throughout all of this:
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. 6 If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. 7 Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.This "suffering" of mine is not directly related to my faith in Christ, but I still think the principle in this passage holds true: God's comfort to us can often be used as a comfort to others.
That is why I am sharing all of this. Depression is a struggle that plagues so many of us, yet is not acceptable to talk about. And that silence just worsens the issue. So I'm talking about it--not after the fact when I have it all figured out, but right now in the middle of it. This is my life. This is where I am struggling. And if you are reading this and struggling too, don't be ashamed. Get help. Even if you have to fight over and over and over and over again for a month to find it.
And if you do want to help me, please pray for me to trust God in everything and follow Him step by step. I've seen time and time again in my life that ultimately, no matter how much I fight to get through anything, it is only by God's grace that I will be fully restored.