Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Manic Depression is Catching My Soul*
*With Apologies to Jimi Hendrix.
Help! I'm trapped in the house with a very mobile baby! It has been raining almost every day for the past 3 weeks, and I'm starting to wonder if we've been transported to the Northwest. I love rain, and I'd much rather have it be cool than blazing, but it doesn't help the cabin fever much. Fortunately, this week has been a little better weather-wise, and Penny and I have been able to GET OUT.
But last week, I was struggling. Penny's Grandma and Grandpa M are in Iceland for 3 weeks, and since they provide Penny's childcare, I haven't been working, except for feeble attempts to check email and write reports at night after Penny goes to bed. I don't like to admit when things aren't going well, but I was really feeling down and I came to the alarming realization that I might actually be missing work. This is the first time I have felt this way. I have never missed work, ever. I know, poor me, right? I only work part time and have family look after my baby while I'm away. Can I even complain? Maybe not, but I'm still going to.
We had fun together the first week. But then I had a birthday (which left me feeling slightly old), my dad left, and the party was over. I was entertaining and chasing Penny 10 hours a day, cooking and cleaning endless messes, tackling the never-ending pile(s) of laundry, while trying not to feel trapped and resentful. And then I felt guilty for having those thoughts. I felt terrible. I tried to go for a walk, but my feet were too heavy. I could barely lift them off the ground and push the stroller forward. I felt like there was an incredible weight pressing down on me. I called my sister, and told her I was worried I might be depressed. I wondered, "Does postpartum kick in this late?"
There are a couple of things going on here. One, Penny is practically weaned, except for one feeding in the morning and one at night, depending on whether or not she's into it. So I think there may be some underlying hormonal issues. Another issue (and I'm delving into my psyche here), is that at work, I feel important. I get reinforcement. I am appreciated. Which isn't to say that I'm not getting that at home, but it's not as overt. I know Penny loves me. She can't say the words yet, but she hugs me and cuddles me, and follows me all over the house because she can't stand to be apart from me. She's going to go from being my constant companion to a surly teenager who thinks I'm the biggest square (and only a square would use that word), and that's going to be hard for me.
Lastly, I'm being furloughed for the month of July, so the state can save money. This means no paycheck (and no work) for me for a month, so Britt is putting in more hours at his job. Some days, I would almost rather have him at home, even it meant less money, just to have him occupy she-who-shrieks-and-flings-food while I make dinner.
Me? Fling food? Never!
Since then, we've had some sun, and I'm realizing now that I'm fine, I'm not clinically depressed, I was just having a rough couple of days. But that was scary. Britt would come home at the end of his 10 hour shift to an exhausted and despondent wife, hoping to catch a glimpse of his sweet baby before her bedtime, and try to feel some empathy for me. But the truth is, we each wanted to trade places with the other person.
B and P in the yard, in the few precious minutes before bedtime.
Before Penny was born, I wasn't sure I wanted to work at all. Now I'm realizing that working part time is the right compromise for me. But that doesn't make me immune to all of the subsequent conflicting feelings.