October 2, 2014

loving (and not loving) your baby...

Depression is not new to me.

Although God granted me a season without symptoms of depression, when I found myself sitting in a room full of people and feeling oh-so-alone once again, it felt eerily like home.

Depression is not my home. It is not where I choose to make my dwelling. But it has followed me for years...decades, demanding to sit with me, sleep with me, nestling into the deep places where all of my hurts and fears reside.

This time, after almost two years of reprieve, depression returned while I was holding a newborn.

Post partum depression.
I was not surprised.
I knew what it was.
I wasn't afraid.
But now, I sat with my thoughts, pondering this new twist.
I don't love my baby.

I sat still and absorbed the thought, not with shock, but with resignation.

Simply hours after the traumatic birth of my 2nd child, I had spoken words full of regret to my husband. In the quietness of the "recovery" room at the hospital, regret, horror and shock tumbled from my lips. I looked down at my sweet, perfect daughter, and I whispered through tears.

This wasn't worth it. 
That was the worst thing that has ever happened to me. 

Two weeks later, I thought the depression was linked to the birth. Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is common for women to experience after traumatic births.
But day after day passed, and the depression settled in.

I do love my baby, I insisted to myself.
Week after week, the panicked sadness continued.
Days of resenting her newborn cries.
Hours of wishing I could shut my toddler in a room so I didn't have to deal with her.
And the worst of all...wishing I had never gotten married, I had never had children, that I had chosen to kill myself back in college before I had attached myself to so many people.

Life just feels like an endless series of sucker punches.
And I find myself looking around and wondering, how is it that we are all still somehow surviving, somehow clinging to hope, somehow still grasping for meaning.

This season of depression is different than it was seven years ago.
In the past, part of my depression story included trying to figure out who I believed God was.
Now, there is a settledness to this depression; I know He is good.
But wow, life is still just so shitty.
Depression takes my mind so quickly to The Worst Possibilities.
I imagine deaths, illnesses, accidents, and I grieve these sorrows.
 I can taste the salty tears, feel the tightness of my throat, hear the despair of my soul.
My God, My God, why do you continue to forsake me? 
He has not forsaken. I remind myself, over and over, with tears slipping down my cheeks and onto the head of my newborn. Not Forsaken, I rise. I push thoughts of death from my heart, and I preach.
God's goodness has never forsaken you, I insist.

But the reality of death, the deep ache of sorrow, and the painful piercing of God's severe mercy follows me through the quiet hours of being a young mom. Toddler Shrieks and Baby Wails go in one ear and out the next. I wander through life in a trance, washing dishes, throwing toys in a basket, arranging blankets, and in the quietness of my despairing soul, I grasp for God, for grace, for mercy.

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