I really don’t want to write this post, but I have to be honest with myself – and with you. I wanted my last post to be the end of the series I’ve entitled My Story – the sunny, beautiful, happily-ever-after. And honestly, I’ve been feeling that way – positive, grateful, content and so, so happy – for almost a year. But these past few days … .
Day 1: It was something stupid that started it off – isn’t it always? There was a difference of opinion and a bit of miscommunication, and everything turned nasty. I had to listen to two people, who I knew were treating me and my family badly but who I believed still cared about me, talking about me – behind my back, but in front of my face. I lost my rag right there on the beach where everyone could see and hear me. Not at them, of course – at my poor husband who dared to make a completely reasonable point. I was up to my old ways.
I was feeling out of control again, and I hated it, but it was like I was being taken over. I kept saying things I knew I shouldn’t say.
Ultimately, I was forced (emotional blackmail) to let someone I don’t trust take my kids out for the evening. I couldn’t go along because there wasn’t room for me and the baby (translation: he preferred to take someone else and her daughter – to spend the evening with my kids!) Even so, I tried to let it go. I bigged up the evening to my girls – I really did want them all to have a good time – and I spent it with friends (and baby). My kids got back safely and they’d had a great evening. They told me about the new friends they’d made, the food they ate, how well-behaved they’d been. They showed me their cheap plastic toys and the stone-and-shell collection they’d put together on the beach. I was so happy for them. But I couldn’t get the black cloud out of my head.
Day 2: The black cloud hadn’t lifted. It was eating me alive, and I forgot everything I’ve learned about staying positive. I just let it take me over. I even ignored my own advice to talk to someone. I barely spoke to my husband all day, I snapped at people, I faked it with others. Only with the kids did I feel good, normal, happy. But then, in the afternoon, my oldest woke me and the baby up … and I lost it. I screamed at her, I said something I haven’t said or even thought for years – not since the darkest days of my depression: I screamed at her that I wanted to die. I blundered downstairs, my hands shaking, and I could hear her sobbing in the bedroom – sobbing that she was a bad kid. Then – the knife in my heart – I should be the one that dies.
I physically caught my breath. What had I done? What had I made her say? I knew this was the breaking point. I had to get back or I was going to fall right over the edge – and take this beautiful family with me. I wanted to run. To run and run and never stop. I turned to the front door, only then realising I was holding the baby, but then I turned around and climbed those stairs. I talked to my daughter, I cried with her, I held her so tight, I tried to explain, I kissed away her tears. Soon, we were both laughing with tear-streaked faces at the baby.
I shouldn’t have put her in that position. A seven-year-old kid. I shouldn’t have let her see me like that, I shouldn’t have lost control. But she saved me. When we were hugging each other, I was well aware that it was her holding on to me and not the other way round. My guardian angel.
I’m ashamed of the way I acted these past few days – I know those people in my story above will think I’m a bitch, a moody cow, and who knows what else. I know they will gossip about me and make comments and give each other looks behind my back. I will be paying for these two days as long as I stay on the island.
But I am also proud of myself. I got back. I’m OK. I wish I could have stopped all this before it started, but I wasn’t strong enough … not yet. But I will keep on practising the tricks I’ve learned to push the negativity out. One day my positive force will be so strong that no one will be able to destroy it – not even my own demons.
Day 3: I talked to my husband last night after I wrote the above. We stayed up till 4 am. He’s amazing. Straight up. Why didn’t I just talk to him on the beach? Who knows? … Anyways, I feel better today, almost like I felt before this happened, but now I have a new sense of fear. I thought I was ‘cured’ … but my enemy is still alive.
What brought it all back? Surely not the events themselves: just regular extended family manipulative bullshit, with a side order of backstabbing and showing me I’ll always be the outsider, the foreigner, the last one to get picked for the team (no matter how hard I try and how many grandchildren I push out!) Maybe it was the feelings they sparked inside me: isolation, worthlessness, anger … the ones that led me to depression in the first place.
Has anyone truly overcome post-natal depression? Or is it always lurking in the background, ready to strike?