Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Church with Baby #4

On Facebook this morning, I read a post that showed up on my feed through a friend sharing/commenting/liking. Who knows how FB feed works these days.
Anyway, this post was from the blog the Scampering Horse. It really resonated with me. It was about attending church while being depressed.

Since its been floating through my head all day, I thought I would share my memories of attending church with postpartum depression.

I hated it. I hated all three hours, I hated sitting on the pew, I hated listening to people give talks, I hated that my children were incapable of sitting still for an hour and 15 minutes (I know ridiculous expectations but I was severely depressed.) I would sit on the edge of the pew, my husband next to me, and the children after him. Without ever asking or talking about it, he knew that I was incapable of taking care of my kids at church. I would inevitably have to go feed my baby, or feed him on the pew, that's how I roll. I could nurse my baby, since while nursing my baby was the only time I did not hate everything about the world and my life. (Have I mention this bout of depression made me extremely angry/aggressive?) Anytime a child tried to talk to me or touch me my husband would play defense for me.

I'm not really sure what I did during sunday school hour. I never attend sunday school with a baby. Maybe nurse again? I took attendance and did other Relief Society Secretary business. but that doesn't take 45 minutes. I sat on the couch next to my husband? I put on a false face. I pretended I didn't hate everyone I saw, I pretended I cared about other people's lives, I pretended I didn't hate every child/baby I saw. The only thing worse than being depressed is having people know I'm depressed. Is having people give sympathy, having to talk to people who want to "help" me. People asking how they can help just so they can pat themselves on the back. (That last sentence-- I do not actually feel that way about my current ward members, but I did about my previous ward the previous time I was drowning in depression.) I'm naturally independent, I don't want people to help, I don't like people knowing I'm struggling. So not a single soul other than my husband knew I was depressed for most of the summer. Then as I started to slowly come out, when I started to realize the essential oil I was using was working and I didn't need more medication. I told three ladies total. I told them, I did not need help, I did not sympathy. I did not need people knowing.

Then it was time for Relief Society. I remember sitting there thinking, no, I don't want to hear anything you have to say. I don't agree with anything. I sat there in a very very dark place, always happy to go take handouts or take roll in a different room. Relief Society Secretary was the best calling ever for me depressed. I did not have to organize anything myself, I did not have run meetings for a committee, I did not have to take care of children, I didn't have to teach lessons, I didn't have to bare testimony. I was called in March, by summer my whole brain was covered in poison. The Lord knew where I needed to be.

Looking back I sometimes wonder why I stayed in my meetings. For a couple of reason.

  1. This wasn't my first rodeo, so I knew it wouldn't last forever. I told myself I would not make any changes to my life until I felt like myself again. I would just keeping moving along, keeping going one day, and the next. Whether I fed myself or my children a new day would come tomorrow, and quite possibility I would feel worse, but I would not change anything until I felt like me again. 
  2. I didn't want anyone to know I was suffering, so I was unwilling to change my routine because I didn't want anyone to recognize that it was different. Although I did change my 5 day week routine, but I didn't want my Sundays to look suspicious. (I honestly can't tell you why I'm so against people knowing I'm struggling, mostly probably because I hate sympathy. I hate people telling me I understand, when they clearly are not me, and have no idea what is going on inside. I remember at 13 someone telling me they understand how I feel, and me wanting to scream you have no idea how the heck I feel, and some things never change.)
When we got home from church, and I would rally everything I have to put my baby to bed and my two year old to bed for naps. I dropped out of ward choir, I could attend for three hours but no more. Then I would lock myself away, my children were not allowed to talk to me, or ask me anything or to interact with me. I felt terrible about it at the time and looking back I still do, I was so incapable of caring for them. But it was completely up to my husband on sundays, he also fed us every Sunday. The only thing I was capable of during this time was making eggs and toast for breakfast and sharing with my children if they asked ahead of time.

Since things are better and I feel like myself I have told people I was so miserable and depressed. Many people look at me shocked. I guess I did a good job putting on a show, although I get the impression people I really know knew something was up, they just didn't know what.

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