I told my psychiatrist several months ago, "I'm learning to trust my happiness again." It was a big moment for me. Go back five and a half years. My first son was a few months old and I was denying postpartum depression. I blamed feeling forced into a c-section. I blamed going back to work and losing my milk supply shortly thereafter. I blamed several things for my mood swings and bouts of crying. I never, ever blamed postpartum depression.
I gave birth to my second son about two years later. It was a healthy vaginal delivery and I had a healthy milk supply. Still, I remember breaking down in sobs at the base of the stairs one day, unable to move and overwhelmed by everything. A teary meltdown was not unusual for me, but the intensity with which this round hit knocked some sense into me. I told myself I needed help. Then I told my husband I needed help. I think his first reaction was relief, because he had been trying to talk about it ever since the first baby, but I had refused to admit it was an issue. Now we could do something about it.
I didn’t get help, though. Not then, anyway. We talked about finding a therapist, but soon after life got very busy with being unemployed, entering two different online post-graduate programs and becoming pregnant with our third child. I had deadlines, grades, short-term plans and long-term goals. I did begin to feel better, yet I knew the depression wasn’t really over. So, I made sure come to the next postpartum party prepared. I got a prescription for antidepressants from my ob-gyn before I left the hospital with my daughter and starting taking them six weeks later. I was warned it might take a little while to feel the effects, so I was surprised when it worked overnight! It was exciting to feel better, but also scary knowing for sure that something had been really wrong before. I thought the best description of the experience was, “I feel like myself for the first time in a long time and I hadn’t known I was missing.” Hello, me.
Fast forward through follow-ups with my primary care physician, dosage increases and a referral to a university doctors program. Therapy made a big difference for me. About six months in, I had another realization. I was able to feel happiness without an immediate foreboding following. Once again, I had not realized I had been feeling this way until I felt its absence.
Before kids, I charged through life, not completely carefree, but certainly with a confidence in things being generally good. Then began the most hormonal and physical challenging five years of my life, which I call My Dark Ages. I was finally through it and could see it was about more than just feeling happiness. That was easy. Now, I could trust my happiness. I wasn’t going to fall apart. Life would be generally good. I could live life with confidence again.
And now when I trip, stumble or fall down, I trust myself to get back up and keep going.