the winding road to postpartum depression

You never really pay attention to the signs, even when they’re staring you in the face. Carlos kept asking me what was wrong. I could feel my mom tiptoeing around me, always around the corner making sure I was never left alone with the girls for too long. My dad made sure to make himself scarce to avoid my wrath. And my poor baby girls got a shadow of my normal self.

Postpartum depression hit me hard. I didn’t notice it right after Catalina was born, it could be because my sister came from Holland and I was distracted, or maybe it was something that developed later on. All I know is that in the beginning of May I started secluding myself. I hid in the bedroom under the guise that I was breastfeeding the baby but really I just wanted to be alone. I couldn’t handle leaving the house unless it was absolutely necessary, and even then every outing was full of anxiety and self doubt.

I couldn’t bring myself to take a shower because the water on my skin felt like knives. I wanted to eat any and every thing I could get my hands on. No amount of sleep was enough and so I just wanted to be in bed all day hiding, trying to sleep while Catalina slept. I couldn’t be bothered to cook or clean, let alone keep up with my own personal hygiene.

I kept apologizing to Carlos. I kept telling him I would get better eventually. I kept telling him how much I loved him and our girls but I just wasn’t myself…and I didn’t know how to get back there. And my husband lovingly replied that there was no need to apologize and reminded me that adjusting to a new person in our family was going to take it’s time.

Finally, my mom sat me down and told me I needed help. Not just help around the house but professional medical help. I broke down crying because I knew it was true. I knew that this wasn’t going to go away on it’s own. A few days later I was seeing a psychiatrist who sat down with me and after listening to me cry, rant, and rave for what felt like forever prescribed me an SSRI and told me to come back to her in ten days.

Here I am, about six weeks later and I finally feel back to normal. Taking  a shower isn’t torture, I’m working out and eating right, and most importantly, I’m able to be present when interacting with my family. I feel free.

To all my fellow mothers out there, please do not be afraid to ask for help. Do not be ashamed or bound by the stigma society has placed on depression/mental health. Finding help makes you strong and honestly will give your children just another reason to look up to you.

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those who can’t teach.

I would like to preface this post by saying, I was a total a**hole in high school. It was 2006, the height of all things emo. I had short hair, dyed my hair black and listened to ridiculous emo music. Keep that in mind when reading the rest of this post. 

As the school year in the Northern Hemisphere comes to an end, I can’t help but think back of my time in school. I look at my girls and hope that they have better luck than I did when it came to dealing with low self esteem, mean teachers, and bullies.

I was bullied pretty badly in elementary and middle school, so much so that I made it a point to apply to a magnet school where I would know NO ONE and be able to start fresh. Little did I know that I would never really fit in there. People tried to get to know me but I lived an hour away from most of my classmates and couldn’t form any solid relationships outside of regular school hours. Mix that with teenage hormones and repressed anger,  you’ve got yourself a staring down the barrel of depression and anxiety.

Sophomore year was when my parents decided it was time I start seeing a psychologist and psychiatrist. I tried Zoloft, Prozac, and Adderall. It was also the year I started hanging out with friends who drank, smoked, and dabbled with illicit drugs.

Junior year I was desperate. I was fat, lonely, and at the time, thought I was going to die a virgin because I didn’t have a boyfriend. I was so starved for attention from boys that I was trying to get it any way I could. And so I started talking to Toby*. Toby and I were friends who had known each other since freshman year. He was one of the popular kids at school. Always involved in extra curricular activities and on the school broadcasting channel.

We used to take the bus and train home from school together. One afternoon, during our commute home, we somehow kissed. I don’t remember the details other than he and I started writing notes to each other afterwards. At a certain point I realized that I didn’t actually have feelings for him  and couldn’t lead him on. Being the teenage idiot that I was, decided that the best way to express that to him was to write it in a note and deposit the note in his locker.

In my note I wrote about my smoking and depression and probably a bunch of other stuff that was way too personal to put on paper but didn’t have the foresight to know better. I walked into my AP Composition class and see the note I wrote to him stapled onto the class bulletin board. Needless to say, I was stunned. And while my teacher, Ms. Ruiz, didn’t say anything directly to me, she made sarcastic offhand remarks alluding to the letter. And that’s when the floodgates opened to my being bullied again in my new school.

My classmates took her lead and started laughing about it openly. I was mortified. I felt betrayed. I felt worthless. I found myself dreading school and longing for the days when all kids teased me about was my weight or purple hair. It got so bad that I had to switch schools midway through the year.

Now I see that event as blessing in my life. I was able to reconnect with my best friend. I was able to pull my grades high enough to go to college and get a scholarship. I was able to have a true high school experience filled with clubs, dances, band, and football games.

But that experience led me to be wary of teachers. I never allowed myself to open up in class again. It makes me wary of those who teach my daughters. I’ll forever be cautious of those in positions of power because this one woman, who is still an educator, decided to belittle me instead of pulling me aside and asking if I was okay. Instead of offering help, sending me to the counselors office, or even calling my parents, because what 16 year old should be smoking or drinking, she used my weaknesses against me to make me feel minute.

If you’re a teacher reading this, especially a high school teacher, know that your indifference to your students emotional wellbeing causes as much harm as the hurtful things their peers say or do to them. It is your job as an educator to uplift and encourage your students. If you can’t do that then at the very least don’t be another stumbling block in the already bumpy road that is adolescence.

*Name changed to protect myself from drama. 

i’ve got the blues

I haven’t written in a couple of weeks due to some personal issues. I’ve debated writing on the subject, afraid of being too honest in such a public forum. 

I’ve been going through an inexplicable wave of depression for the past few weeks. All I’ve wanted to do is stay in bed, watch Supernatural, and sleep. 

At first I thought it was due to the impending arrival of Aunt Flo, but after her usual visit I’m still feeling blue. Then I figured it might be due to the wet weather we’ve been having but on sunny days I feel just as down. 

I suffered from depression as a teenager. I went to several therapists, was put on multiple mood altering medications, suffered from the effects of said drugs, and eventually quit it all. I blocked a lot of that time in my life from my memory. I couldn’t tell you why I started going to therapy to begin with even if I wanted to, but I can tell you that it wasn’t something I had to deal with often after I graduated from high school. 

It wasn’t until recently that I started feeling it weigh on me. There hasn’t been a major catalyst in these feelings. Carlos and I haven’t been arguing. Things with my parents are normal. Vanessa and I are good even with the distance. Paloma has just been her usual vivacious and loud self. But somehow I can’t find a way to get through this period.

I keep getting asked, “Are you okay? You don’t seem okay.” Those are the questions that make my skin tingle, my blood boil, and the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. It’s a ridiculous reason to get upset. They mean well. They’re my family and they love me. However when I’m in this dense fog of depression it’s difficult to see their good intentions. 

The worst part of feeling this way is how I feel when I’m around Paloma. My patience is thin and my temper is roaring. The more frustrated I get, the clingier and more emotional she is, causing me to get even more frustrated than before. I’m beyond blessed to be in a situation that I can leave her with my parents of her dad for a few hours so I can take time to collect myself. It breaks my heart every time I walk away, hearing her cry and reach out to me. But I know that I need to take a few moments to myself so I can be the best mom I can be to her. 

Even knowing that those few moments are what’s best for BOTH of us, I still get hit with mom guilt if I’m not with her 24 hours a day. I feel inadequate as a mom. I see these YouTube vloggers or other bloggers sharing their stories of their life with their littles and I feel like being depressed is something that just doesn’t happen to them. I feel as  if they’re constantly smiling, doing cute activities with their littles and their lives are peachy. I know, logically, that it isn’t true. Logically, all kids throw tantrums. Logically, all moms lose their cool. Logically, not everyone has everything together. Again…logically. 

Depression isn’t logical though. It has no rhyme or reason other than a chemical imbalance. I’ve been debating going to a therapist but finding one that speaks English is going to be difficult. I could attempt to see one but I feel like most of the sessions would be spent trying to make our way through my nervous and broken Spanish. 

I often wonder if this is what postpartum depression feels like. Drowning in a glass of water, feeling completely alone and misunderstood. The more you try to explain the more people look at you with concerning eyes that are secretly saying, “Bless her heart. She has everything she could ever want and she’s here complaining.” Fearful of the backlash of sharing this very real crisis.

These are things that I FEEL. Having them, let alone sharing them, doesn’t make me dysfunctional. It doesn’t make me spoiled or flawed. I am many things: a mom, a wife, a daughter, a friend, but most of all I am human. Like most things in life, my emotions go through hills and valleys. I just so happen to be going through a valley right now. I look forward to the day when I’m back on the hill. I’ll be okay if it’s not today or tomorrow because I know that one day I’ll feel like myself again.