I go home after that conversation with that stranger and cry off and on for the rest of the afternoon. I can't stop thinking about it, about how I snatched my baby out of my husband's arms and ran to get her away from that conversation, and how he followed and can't remember if he said anything to end the conversation before following me. I sob and sob, terrified that this woman will corner me again and again refuse to listen to us when we try to respond with reason. I know perfectly well that people who know us have no problems with how we handle our child. I know that she is healthy and happy and loved. But the whispers are there in the back of my mind, that maybe I'm a bad mother in spite of all the evidence to the contrary.
The next day, everything weighs on me. The light, the time, my own thoughts. I make it through the day, and go to knitting group because the impulse I have is to isolate myself, and I know from experience that isolation will make it all worse.
The day after, I cry while reading "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?" to E. J. stays home from music practice that night because I really don't want to be alone.
Today I go to a playgroup, and then for a walk, followed by lunch, laundry, and dishes, interspersed with trying to convince E. to have her afternoon nap. The darkness doesn't crash in until the evening when J. gets home, as if it was waiting until I wasn't on my own, so that it's mitigated just that little bit.
We're past the deadline of six months post-partum, so I know that this is probably not post-partum depression. This is me.
As always, I am functional. I have to be. Before, I had school and work, obligations that required fulfillment. Now, I have a small child depending on me. She needs me to be there for her. So I push through the quagmire, and decide that if I haven't bounced back by next Sunday, I'm giving my counselor a call. I'm hoping she won't send me to the doctor. The medication that helped last time is not compatible with breastfeeding, and while we don't breastfeed that much anymore, I don't want to quit entirely, not yet.
Some of this is probably the PMS. Some is weariness. Some is the change in the season. Most have heard of SAD, but only know what happens when people need more sunshine. I lean the other way, a less common problem in this hemisphere. The sunlight flips my moods inside out. I'm more-or-less okay during the winter, and then the weather changes, the clouds clear, and I'm hiding indoors, sketching jagged lines into paper, and avoiding people.
* * *
A couple weeks later, things have evened out again. I'm back to equilibrium. More sleep. Adjusting to the sun. Deliberately spending time with others. The apartment is still untidy, and I still hit occasional moments of grief. However, I feel far more normal than I did back in the days when the darkness refused to recede. For the moment, I have a reprieve.
Spring is here.
|Photo credit: Wikipedia.|