So we’re 11 months out from having our baby. Things are going well! I feel happy, content…but more importantly, I feel like myself.
And then I saw this new Mazda commercial. As I watched, my stomach turned. Tears started pouring out of my eyes. Flashbacks to that horrible perinatal depression fluttered across my closed eyelids. Flashbacks to the hopelessness and despair. Visions of my friends enjoying their babies while I felt like I was dying; like my life was over. My heart started to pound. My palms started to sweat.
My PTSD from perinatal depression had made it’s appearance, again.
That’s the part of recovery that they don’t tell you about. They don’t tell you that as you’re enjoying a nice afternoon, thinking how lovely your vacation was, how cute your baby is, how suddenly PTSD can spring up and paralyze you.
I don’t know why the Mazda commercial triggered me. I don’t know why when people joke about me having more than one kid, why that triggers it.
It just does.
I hate it.
I know that even though I have made so much progress and I feel so much better…that PTSD is still waiting in the wings to strike. I feel stupid saying that. I feel like some soldier returning from Iraq probably has way worse PTSD – his/her PTSD is real. One of my friends who found her father after he killed himself – she’s got legitimate PTSD. I just had perinatal depression.
But I’ve realized that I can’t minimize it. I need to own up to whatever it is. Maybe I’m weak for being so affected by this…but it’s my motherhood, it’s my experience. I still need to tackle it and deal with it.
I avoid triggers as best as I can. I’m careful about the pictures that I view on social media of people’s newborns, because I know that in the blink of an eye, it can take me back to those dark, dark days. Those dark days aren’t what I want to think of when I want to celebrate the joyful birth of a new child with my friends.
I know that I have to stop the conversation if people start joking/asking about having another kid. I know that I have to walk away if they tell me that I’ll feel differently in another year or two. They could totally be right! But right now, I can’t hear it.
Because as excited as I am about how much better I feel…as my therapist reminds me: I’m still on the road to recovery. Maybe I always will be. But I’m proactive about it and I watch for triggers.
I’ll get better, I hope. Or maybe I won’t. But I can cope. I can deal with it. I’ve got the tools.
We’re just taking it one day at a time.