Waking to the cries of a fussy baby on the other end of the monitor, I sat bolt-upright at 3am and barked out, “I AM SICK OF HAVING A BABY!” My husband stirred and muttered, “Whaaa?,” giving me the perfect chance to retract – or at least rephrase – my outcry. But I didn’t. I growled again, “I am SICK of having a baby!”
Of course you know I am not sick of my son. He’s delicious and snuggly and bright and sweet and loving. I adore him. But I suffer from a terrible pattern of negative emotional recall. When times are great, I am so happy in the moment. But when things are hard – like the way my son still inexplicably wakes us two or three times a night – it feels as if there has never been sunlight in my world.
I go through this every day, several times a day. I am constantly having to remind myself to reassess my situation: everything is not terrible, it hasn’t always been this way, things will get easier. I remind myself to relax the muscles in my neck, to bring more air into my lungs. I often retreat to my bedroom, but I don’t stay for long. Just long enough to let the committee of voices convene and submit their evidence that hey, lady, life is good. And then I get up and get on my way.
This probably sounds completely insane to most of you. Words like “anxiety” and “depression” would be more than appropriate and this point. In fact, I have been diagnosed and treated for both in my lifetime. And I know that much of what I’m experiencing right now comes from having had a very challenging year (new baby, new home, new everything!). I don’t feel particularly odd or unnatural for having the kind of daunting mental life that I have. I think there are a lot of us who put forth a heroic effort just to get through an average, ordinary day.
For those of us who find ourselves in that shadowy fog and work to shine a light that leads to clarity, I say “GO US!” We are the real rock stars. We take care of our families, we nurture our friends, we get involved in our communities, we pursue our interests – even when putting one foot in front of the other feels like the largest leap. We cycle through, and cycle OUT, of emotions and fears and feelings that could knock us down. But we fight, and most days we win.