Four beautiful words. “You have recovered well.” Spoken by my therapist to me on Monday night. I let out a huge, deep breath that I didn’t even know I was holding in. I had felt that this was true, but I needed to hear someone else say it, someone who knows what she’s talking about.
And she did. Four months after I started going to therapy for PPD/anxiety, I was told I have recovered well. Four months ago I wouldn’t have believed anyone if they said I could be this person again. I felt so unhappy, so desperate, so undecidedly not me, that I couldn’t imagine things getting any better. You know when you have a really terrible cold, and your head is all foggy, and you see people who are well and you can’t remember what it feels like not to be sick? I had forgotten how good it feels to be me. To be happy.
She let this sink in, giving me an encouraging smile, before she dropped the bomb. “I think we can start weaning you off sessions until you go back to work. Because that may trigger your depression and anxiety again.”
My initial, free-association thought was that “weaning” takes on a whole other meaning once you become a mom and you really can’t go back to using the word in a discussion that doesn’t involve infant sleep or breastfeeding. But my second thought was a cold, hard realization: this will never be over.
I sat there, a little stunned and a lot frustrated. I have recovered well. Remember? I’m done with this. But the rational part of me was there whispering that I had known this all along. Depression and anxiety is something I can overcome. It is something I can defeat. But it will always be a war that I have to fight. This was just the first battle.
And once I stopped being mad at the messenger, I realized that if I was being honest with myself, going back to work is already triggering my depression and anxiety.
You haven’t seen a post from me in a while. That’s because I’m in the throes of writing my thesis for my Master’s degree and preparing to teach a brand new course in the fall. And if I’m not working on one of those two things or on mommy duty, I am so overwhelmed by trying to find balance in my new life that I shut down and can’t accomplish anything. Did I really think it would get easier come September?
I have recovered well. And part of recovering well is realizing that I have to make the choice every day to not give in to my anxious thoughts. To not let “working mom guilt” overtake me. To be happy. To get help when I need it. To be honest with myself and those who love me about what I’m feeling. To make decisions that are right for me, my husband, and our daughter. To hold on to the me that I have recaptured and to fight for her every day.