I am amazed at how much a little blue pill, taken once each day, has changed my life, my relationships, and my home.
Probably for five years I was living in a constant state of postpartum depression, which only became worse with exhaustion. As I sit here in a better state I shake my head at myself. Why did I wait so damn long to act?
Okay, I know the answer. Because I was too proud. And I was so vain that I wanted Travis to swoop in and "intervene" and save me.
To be fair I should also say that in a completely non-prideful and non-vain way I was afraid to take a pill. Afraid of the unknown like a child is afraid. I thought of it in terms of the Rolling Stones song "Mother's Little Helper" and I was afraid that if I didn't fight my way back to my old self with a little help from time and the Sacraments I would be taking pills for the rest of my life. And I thought there was something wrong with that.
I've written about how much I have benefited from treatment for my postpartum depression, so the improvement is something I've obviously already noticed. Yet about once a week I am still struck by how different I am now from before I began taking the medication and how much more like my old self I am again.
As I look how my life has changed for the better it seems that there are five areas where I notice the improvement the most.
Laughter. I used to be known for my laugh. Loud, distinct, and freely flowing - I laughed generously, sincerely, and often. I found humor in all kinds of situations. But with motherhood I lost much of my sense of humor. Spills and accidents and wrong turns were never amusing but always serious and seriously annoying. Imagine my children's relief that they can accidentally spill some flour when they dump it with excitement and I don't flip my lid. Imagine their delight when I laugh it off - when we laugh it off together.
Peace in my heart and in my home. It used to be that if Travis came home and the whole house was tidy he knew it had been a very bad day. Not any more. Things can get messier and I don't freak out. The super awesome train tracks can be set up for days and I don't fret. I don't fly into a tizzy internally and then act on it. Now if the house is clean it's because we all worked together and picked it up - not a big deal. If it's a mess because I have five kids who play and read and dress up and eat snacks - not a big deal.
Quiet. Once again I can sit in quiet and just enjoy it. When my house is quiet it is not an opportunity to think about all the ways I'm failing - those kinds of thoughts rarely enter my mind anymore - but to take a moment for myself. I don't need to always lose myself in television shows. When the kids nap I can sit and pray or read or just look out the window and watch the sparrows.
The ability to turn away. To turn from Facebook, the newspaper, the dishes, the television and respond to my children. But it's not just about stopping what I"m doing and helping or playing with them right away, although my kids hear, "In a minute," much less now. It's also in that when I turn away from what I was doing I am not put out. I don't treat them like they're a huge inconvenience to my life, because I don't feel like that anymore (except at the end of very long days). All of this means that I now read, snuggle, bake, and say "yes" to my kids much more than I did before and we are both happier because of it.
Clean Laundry, oops! I mean Motivation. The things that were once so tedious, that felt so! oppressive! woe! is! me! I have to do! the laundry! - well gosh, they're just not that big of a deal any more. Now I still have some vices of laziness and being self-indulgent but I at least now have some motivation to do better, try harder, and just get it done. One day I stood in the laundry, having washed, dried, folded, and *put away* several loads of laundry and I thought, "Thank you, Jesus, for that little blue pill."
Until my postpartum depression was treated I didn't realize what all it had taken away from me, how much it had changed me. I no longer feel like a much grumpier shadow of my former self. Instead I am enjoying my vocation and my life - which is a good way to live.