Update: I wrote this post a few days before I went to my doctor to ask for a prescription for Zoloft. And boy has it made a difference. I feel like my old self again. I still have bad days. I still have days when I feel a little hopeless or frustrated with life. But it's not like it was pre-Zoloft. Oh, and another positive side effect of Zoloft: I have a lot less mommy guilt than I used to. We're eating lunch in our pj's? Who cares! The house isn't spotless? Meh I'll do it tomorrow. I stay in Blake's room for quiet time so he can play while I nap? Yep. I'm finally starting to realize that my children won't always have such an open schedule. Much sooner than I realize, our days will be largely shaped by dropping off and picking up from school/tee-ball practice, etc. So I'm learning to enjoy the time I have with them now. So thank you, Zoloft. You brought back normal Whitney.
I was kind of hoping that once Trevor was born my hormones would stabilize and I would feel like my old self again. Normal.
But I'm realizing as time passes I don't think I know what normal is anymore. I don't know how I'm supposed to feel on a regular, mundane, not going to do anything exciting kind of day.
Because most days I feel...blah.
I can actually remember when I started feeling this way. It was after Blake was born. Motherhood kind of threw me for a loop. Not only was I learning how to care for a human being, but Evan started a job out here which left me learning how to live life without my husband around. It was weird. I think I had postpartum depression, but I just chalked it up to being stressed out and husband-less. I figured things would get better with time.
And they did. As dark as some of the days were with a newborn, I look back fondly on the time when it was just Blake and me. He'd sleep in bed with me, we'd lounge around the house and occasionally venture outside. Then I returned to work for the last week of school and began packing up our life so we could join Evan out here. I was excited to be a little family again. I had something to take my mind off the feeling blah thing.
But then I got here. And life was...hard. I am not a city girl. I've never had aspirations to be a city girl. I am suburban to my core. In fact, I think this place is turning me into a country girl. Some days I wouldn't mind living in a place where my closest neighbor is a mile down the road.
So my adjustment to living in Brooklyn wasn't a smooth one. In fact, sometimes I feel like I'm still not adjusted. And frankly I don't ever want to adjust to living here. I don't want this place to ever be normal to me. I'm biding my time, chalking it all up to experience, waiting to move on.
So I went from what I remember as feeling normal, to having a baby and reeling from that, to moving to Brooklyn and reeling from that, throw in some brief stretches of contentment, to this. The not-so-normal, can't-get-back-to-normal Whitney. And I've been blaming it on Brooklyn.
But, lately I've wondered, "What if it isn't all Brooklyn's fault? What if I will always feel like this? What if this is my new normal?" Overwhelmed, stressed, unmotivated. Hopeless.
Not all days are like that. In fact, most of them aren't like that. But the ones that are hit hard and make me wonder if I ever don't feel that way. And I can tell when those days are coming.
Take today for example: It was actually not freezing, low 50's in fact, so I packed up the boys (that's still so weird to say sometimes) and we headed to the playground. We spent several hours outside. And it was glorious. I even thought to myself, "Good. I'll be back to normal once it warms up and we can venture outside." But hours later, even after Blake gave me a good hour of quiet time and even hung out on my bed for another hour while I continued to relax, I felt those feelings creep in. Overwhelmed, frustrated, stressed, hopeless. I often easily lose my patience with Blake during these times and my internal dialogue keeps repeating, "You're losing control. You're slipping back into it."
These hard days lead me to believe that maybe it's not all Brooklyn. Maybe it's motherhood. And that makes feeling like this even harder.
I have always wanted to be a mom. I knew I would work professionally during different periods of my life, but I loved coming home from school and having my mom around to talk to. I want to do that for my children. It made me feel safe and secure. I love my children. I would give my life for my children. I would not trade them for anything in the world.
But a lot about motherhood is hard. It can be lonely and isolating. And there's no one around to say, "You did this many dollars worth of hard work today. Nice job!" When I was working full-time there were expectations to be met, deadlines, evaluations, and direct deposit that quantified my worth and validated the long hours of preparation and teaching I did. And there are expectations with motherhood and even evaluations in the form of people giving you advice you didn't ask for or judging your parenting style. But it's different. I know I'm worth a lot more as a mother than I am as a teacher. But I don't have a pay stub to prove it. And as much as I wholeheartedly believe a good mother's contribution to the world outweighs that of anything else, sometimes I miss the feeling of contributing something tangible to our family. Well, except babies of course.
So where does this leave me? I don't know. What I do know is I don't want these feelings to be my new normal. But nothing I do seems to bring me back to my old self. Aspects of motherhood will be stressful and difficult no matter where I live. I do feel city life has special challenges that I wouldn't face elsewhere. And as much as I want to "bloom where I am planted" I've tried and tried a little more, always circling back to that blah feeling.
I know I'm struggling with postpartum depression. Before I even had Trevor I fully expected to be on some sort of medication to help me out of this. But it was surprisingly difficult to admit this struggle to myself. In fact, I didn't really think I had it until my doctor's reaction confirmed my inklings when I told him how I was feeling.
I have never judged someone for struggling with this, but to find myself in its grip leaves me feeling disappointed. Why can't I overcome it on my own? I know telling someone who has depression to just get over it is like telling someone with a broken leg to just get up and walk. I know this. But for some reason I find it hard to accept for myself. I'm guessing it's because, like I said, most days are relatively good. I feel kind of normal, or what a good normal has become for me here, but when the bad days cycle around I feel guilty, wondering why I can't pull myself out of it.
Normal. I remember what normal Whitney is like. I miss her. I'll get her back some day.