There is a beast that lives inside my brain.
It tells me untruths about my worthlessness and my capabilities. It threatens my children and my husband’s lives. It shows me pictures that are false so that I will believe that I am harmful.
The beast wants me to believe that I am the monster, and that it–the beast–holds the logical answer to keeping my family safe. It wants me gone.
It tears me down and beats me into submission until I agree that I am dirt and I claw my way to bed and stay there.
The beast is tricky. One minute it allows me fun with a friend, but later distorts the images when it replays it in my mind. It causes me to second guess every comment and reaction. The beast delights in my paranoia. It finds joy in creating awkward distance between me and others.
When the beast sleeps, all is well. I can laugh and imagine and create. I can be the me I know. The me my husband fell in love with.
But when it awakes, it physically hurts. First my head and back begin to ache. Then long, dark fingers wrap around the back of my eyes and everything gets tinted black. And once it starts, I can’t get away until the beast decides to retreat and go back to sleep.
The beast grows bigger the less sleep I get, the less I take care of myself, the less I ask for and accept help. Yet at the same time, the beast hisses in my ear that I do not deserve any of these things.
And I believe him.
Where do I take this pain of mine?
I run, but it stays right by my side
So tear me open, pour me out
There’s things inside that scream and shout
And the pain still hates me
So hold me until it sleeps.*
I live with depression and anxiety every day. Even when it seems to not be there, it’s there. It’s been five years since I was officially diagnosed with postpartum mood disorders–disorders that have grown and morphed with each pregnancy.
It’s been five years since Cortney gently suggested I get help and I agreed.
Five years since the work of healing and learning to battle the beast began.
And I am not alone.
There are so many women out there who suffer in silence and do not get the help they need or deserve. This is why I am so honored to be a contributor in an anthology dedicated to those moms titled Mothering Through the Darkness available November 2015.
The essay that I contributed is one of my most raw and honest yet describing my very first experience with postpartum depression after Eddie was born. In it, I finally come completely clean about the rage and hate and paranoia that filled my head. But I also talk about getting help.
Depression is a beast, but it’s not unmanageable. It is possible to be stronger than the beast.
*lyrics from “Until It Sleeps” by Metallica