I’ve experienced this before. The clinical term for it is depression, although to me it feels more like inertia. I sleepwalk through the motions of the day without really being present. If I could, I’d crawl back into bed and pull the covers over my head. But with two small children to look after, that’s simply not an option.
There are things I can do to overcome this inclination towards stasis. Going running first thing in the morning seems to help energize me. Making lists sometimes makes the mundane tasks I need to do seem more manageable. If I get started on a task, I can usually keep going. If not, the urge to burrow deep inside myself is overwhelming.
The last time I struggled with inertia, I was working at a job I hated and battling an eating disorder. It took three grueling years of therapy and a brief stint in a psychiatric hospital for me to emerge a well-adjusted, healthy person. Then I got pregnant with my son, and I worried that I’d plunge back into depression. Quite the contrary: that particular cocktail of pregnancy and post-partum hormones made me happier than I’ve ever been.
So imagine my surprise when, after my daughter was born, I realized I was absolutely miserable. What triggered my depression this time? A different mixture of hormones, no doubt, but also sleep deprivation, a three-year-old who was having difficulty adjusting, and my own feelings of ambivalence. Here we’d gotten into a nice groove with JJ, and then we had to go fuck it up by having another baby. A baby who would not sleep. Who cried constantly. Who couldn’t settle no matter what we did.
It took some time, but The Peanut eventually did settle into the most fabulous baby girl in the world. And JJ not only came to terms with sharing his mama, but grew to love his sister more than I ever thought possible. And when The Peanut actually started sleeping, I thought we were home-free. So why was I still so unhappy?
When The Peanut was nine months old, I made an appointment with R., the psychiatrist who had helped me overcome my previous depression and eating disorder. R. agreed that this bout of misery was probably triggered by the birth of my daughter. Having a three-year-old and a baby is crazy-making enough, and largely due to my own inertia, I had absolutely no childcare lined up. R. declared my lack of support “an untenable situation” and urged me to change that. In the meantime, I agreed to try Zoloft.
Three months later, I am beginning to move again. I have fewer bad days and feel more like my old self. And since my old self used to write, here I am. I’m not ready to resume writing for hire yet, but reporting from The House of Crazy seems doable. Maybe in the process I’ll figure out who I am besides Mama. Because honestly, I’m not quite sure any more.