Depression is lying.
Not all the time, but … well … a lot of the time.
Because most people don’t want to hear more than “Fine,” when they ask: “How are you?”
I lied throughout my pregnancy.
The questions were generally the same:
How are you?
Aren’t you excited?
Isn’t this great?!
People were prepared to hear about nausea or morning sickness – neither of which were particularly bad for me. People knew I wanted to be pregnant. They knew I miscarried. (After all, I wrote about it on this blog.) Wasn’t I happy to be pregnant?!
I was happy to be pregnant, but I wasn’t happy.
I was depressed. Depressed pregnant.
I was ready for postpartum depression. I had read about it, heard about, and began wondering and worrying about what medications did and did not negatively affect breastfeeding. I had a team set up to watch for signals. I paid a psychiatrist an insane amount of money to do a thorough intake and meet with me weeks after delivery. There were books and articles and blogs about postpartum. I had friends who had been there and could walk the journey with me – should it occur.
I was not ready for depressed pregnancy.
I was tired. All the time.
I was grateful for the energy to do my job. I didn’t do much else.
My anemia flared up again causing greater levels of depression.
The image I had of pregnant me – at prenatal yoga, in cute maternity clothes, power walking with rounded belly in front of me. None of it mattered as I slumped onto the futon after just hours of work. I snuck naps in my office between classes and meetings.
Somewhere inside I was glad to be pregnant. Ecstatic. But I couldn’t feel any of it.
My hormones were going working against me.
A former psychiatrist told me that they never know how hormones will affect depression. “It could,” she said, “be just what you need to feel better. You could feel great. There’s no way to know.”
I hoped she was right. That pregnancy hormones would create super-Me and I’d be … unmedicated and happy.
Instead I was on watch. Medication was an option, yes, but only if needed. So my therapists and doctors watched and asked questions and met with me incessantly to make sure I wasn’t too sad. Sadness was going to happen. But they didn’t want me to be suicidal. I spent months looking and hoping against the invisible line that means a pill is necessary. If I saw the line, if I crossed the line … then I was supposed to take the calculated risk of an unknown effect on my-so-deeply-wanted-baby in order to save myself.
But this is not supposed to be the pregnancy story. I was supposed to be happy. Excited! Joyful! Thankful to be able to carry a baby to term. Especially after losing the previous pregnancy. Especially after medications and blood test to be cleared to try again.
So I lied. To protect the myth of the happy pregnant woman. To hide my own story. To hope that I might wake up one day and be the myth.
It didn’t feel wrong. It didn’t feel sinful. It felt … hard.
I didn’t pray to be forgiven for the sin of lying. I just prayed for the lie to be true.